Highlands & Islands

Tornado jet crews 'lucky' to miss each other by 50ft

Tornado GR4. Pic: British Aerospace
Image caption One of the Tornado GR4s was on a low-level training sortie

Two military jets avoided crashing head-on over the Highlands by "pure" luck, according to an air safety body that investigated the incident.

The Tornado GR4s passed within 50ft of each other near Roybridge in Lochaber on 11 June this year.

The UK Airprox Board said neither crew spotted the other jet and the distance separating the aircraft was "purely fortuitous".

One of the crews reported that avoiding action would not have been possible.

They told the board there was no time to react as the other Tornado passed 50ft below and deemed the risk of collision as high.

Flying at about 320ft, the pilot and navigator were part of a two-jet formation on a low-level training sortie.

The other GR4 crew, flying in the opposite direction, told the board the threat of collision was low.

They had spotted a Tornado and were trying to locate its "wingman" - but this jet only came into view in their mirrors after it had passed close overhead.

In their report, the UK Airprox Board members said: "With neither crew involved able to affect the outcome of this very close quarters encounter beforehand, any separation that did exist was purely fortuitous.

"Therefore, on the basis of the pilots' frank accounts, members agreed unanimously that there had been a risk of collision."

Where the aircraft were based has not been identified.

RAF Lossiemouth on the Moray coast is the nearest air station with Tornados and is home to three squadrons of GR4s.

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