A Ryanair jet packed with British holidaymakers on their way back to Manchester came within seconds of a mid-air collision.
The pilot of the flight to the UK from Majorca was forced to dramatically swerve off course after spotting a private jet converging on its flight path.
The Boeing 737 had just taken off from Palma airport when the near miss happened – and according to radar tracking came within 100ft of the other plane.
Commercial airliners are supposed to maintain a strictly enforced separation both vertically and horizontally while in the same airspace.
The minimum vertical separation is 1,000ft while the horizontal distance they must keep is between three and five miles.
An initial investigation has revealed the Ryanair jet was within one mile of the light aircraft horizontally and just 100 feet vertically.
Having just taken off the commercial jet was travelling at 150mph and accelerating rapidly and the two planes’ routes converging it’s thought the two aircraft could have been as little as 20 seconds from colliding.
Commercial airliners are supposed to maintain a strictly enforced separation both vertically and horizontally while in the same airspace. The Ryanair Boeing 737 had just taken off from Palma airport when the incident occurred. Pictured: File Image
A Cirrus private jet was flying in the way of the commercial plane, forcing the Ryanair pilot to swerve out of the way. Pictured: File Image
The Ryanair flight crew turned away from the other private jet, a Cirrus SF50, only after spotting it out of the cockpit rather than being alerted by air traffic control or any of the onboard warning systems, as should have happened.
Passengers on the flight on May 28th are thought to have been unaware of the near miss and both planes continued safely to their destination.
Spanish aviation chiefs have launched an investigation into the incident.
A spokesman for Ryanair said: ‘The crew of the fight from Palma to Manchester took immediate action upon identifying a converging light-type aircraft and as result, the aircraft remained well clear and the flight continued to Manchester.
‘The event remains under investigation, and we are continuing to liaise with the respective competent authorities in support of the associated processes.’
The near miss took place at Palma in Majorca when the Boeing 737 packed with returning holidaymakers had been cleared for take-off and was climbing from the main runway.
The Spanish registered Cirrus jet had taken off the nearby Son Bonet airfield and was climbing through 1,000ft, according to examination of air traffic control records and radar readings.
Pilots are trained to always turn right when they fear they are too close to another aircraft.
A source at Ryanair said: ‘The Captain and First Office did exactly what they are trained to do. They were alert to the situation and did everything in accordance with all their training.’
The investigation will examine instructions given to both captains of the jets with any blame likely to fall on Spanish air traffic controllers.
It will not be the first time Spanish controllers will be blamed for a near miss involving Ryanair.
Two years ago controllers at Malaga Airport were blamed for putting two Ryanair jets on a collision course on the same runway.
The two jets packed with over 350 holidaymakers came within 500m of each other as one landed and the other took off.
An investigation into the near miss found that an air traffic controller at Malaga Airport failed to warn the departing aircraft that another jet was about to land just as it accelerated down the runway
Passengers on the flight on May 28th from Palma Airport, pictured, to Manchester are thought to have been unaware of the near miss and both planes continued safely to their destination
A report by the Spanish Aviation Authority blamed air traffic controllers at the Costa del Sol airport – one of the busiest in Spain – for the error.
The report found it was the latest in a series of incidents where jets were too close to each other on landing and take-off.
Following investigation new safety measures were implemented at Malaga Airport to prevent similar incidents.
The incident report made clear that the Ryanair flight crew were not to blame for the incident.
It said: ‘The investigation has determined that the incident occurred because an aircraft was given clearance to land on a runway that was occupied by another aircraft in the process of taking off, without respecting the regulatory distance.
‘Deficient planning by the air traffic controller, who took advantage of a gap between two landings to authorise a take-off, is considered a contributing factor in the incident.
‘Given the immediate danger posed by the loss of regulatory separation, the absence of decision making ( to cancel take off, for example) by the air traffic controller is also deemed to have been a factor.’