Report criticises Marham air traffic control over ‘near-miss’

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An RAF Typhoon fighter and a light aircraft came dangerously close to colliding in mid-air because of an air traffic control blunder at Marham, a report has found.

The warplane was taking part in a training exercise when its pilot suddenly spotted the Cessna in its path at around 2,600ft. It dived and shot underneath the smaller plane within around 200ft of it.

The UK Airprox Board, which examines near-misses, said the risk of a collision was high in the scare near Fakenham on July 31 last year.

They said the pilot of the private plane had correctly informed the base of his plans to fly and was told Tornados would be operating, but without specific detail.

The controller said he was controlling three different types of aircraft at the time and did not see the Cessna on his radar until he received a warning that another plane was in front of the Typhoon.

When he radioed to warn its pilot, he was told it had just passed beneath the Cessna.

The report concluded: “The Board felt the C172 pilot had done his best to inform Marham of his intentions to fly close to their radar pattern.

“The Board discussed at length the cause of the Airprox and eventually agreed that Marham ATC had allowed the Typhoon pilot to fly into conflict with the C172.”

It added: “The incident had just stopped short of a collision where safety margins had been reduced to the minimum.”