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International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Saturday, 20.07.2019, 04:53

Lithuanian officials investigate April's near-collision involving 3 planes

BC, Vilnius, 10.05.2019.Print version
Officials are investigating an incident where three civilian aircraft in April narrowly averted a midair collision in Lithuanian airspace, due possibly to a fatigued air traffic controller, 15min.lt reported on Friday cited LETA/BNS.

The potentially disastrous incident happened in skies over the southern municipality of Marijampole on April 19 when LOT Polish Airlines' flight from Warsaw to Tallinn, Corendon Airlines' flight from Oulu to Chania, in Crete, and Nouvelair's flight from Helsinki to Monastir, in Tunisia, found themselves at the same altitude of 11 kilometers, according to the online news site.  


The air traffic controlled had to instruct the aircraft to change their altitude, but, for unknown reasons, such information was not transmitted to the pilots.  


The state-owned air navigation service provider Oro Navigacija told that a collision had been averted thanks to multi-level safeguards, but added that it could not give any details because the investigation was still ongoing. 


"We take information about a potential mid-air incident very seriously. An investigation is currently outgoing and its findings will be analyzed together with the responsible authorities," Transport and Communications Minister Rokas Masiulis said in a comment emailed to LETA/BNS.  


"There cannot be a shadow of doubt when it comes to the ability of Oro Navigacija to ensure safety in airspace," he added. 


According to 15min.lt, the incident possibly occurred because of a fatigued air traffic controller and a mid-air collision was averted after the traffic alert system TCAS went off and the planes promptly changed the altitude.


Oro Navigacija says four people – the shift supervisor and three air traffic controllers –were on the night shift at the Regional Air Traffic Control Center when the incident occurred.


"Media information about a staff member who was drunk or fell asleep at work does not correspond to reality – this was ascertained during the investigation through objective control means," the state-owned company said in a comment on Friday.


"The preliminary investigation shows that the horizontal distance between the aircraft was no less than 5 kilometers and the vertical distance was no less than 200 meters," it said.


Oro Navigacija says all responsible authorities, including the European Aviation Safety Agency, the Transport Competence Agency and the Justice Ministry, have been notified of the incident. 


According to the company, there were no incidents caused by fatigue or a shortage of air traffic controllers between 2017 and 2018. No incidents due to errors by air traffic controllers were recorded in the first quarter of 2019 either.






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