Highlands & Islands

RAF jet 'got a wee bit too close' to plane landing at Stornoway

Tornado GR4
Image caption Tornado GR4s and Hawk jets were simulating an attack on Stornoway

The pilot of a passenger plane told an air traffic controller that an RAF jet had "got a wee bit too close" as he approached Stornoway Airport.

A Tornado GR4, which was among 14 military aircraft involved in an exercise last July, flew close enough to the plane to spark an investigation.

A report published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) concluded there was no risk of a collision.

However, it recommended a review of military exercise planning.

Four Tornado jets and four Hawk fighter jets had been simulating an attack on Stornoway airfield.

The passenger plane's pilot was preparing to land when he was alerted to the military crews approaching the runway to carry out a mock assault.

The civilian pilot took evasive action and decided to make a fresh approach for a landing.

The GR4 that came closest to the passenger plane was about a mile and a half away, but had been travelling at 540mph.

'Was disappointing'

In the CAA airprox report, the civilian pilot is quoted saying to the air traffic controller: "Those Tornados just got a wee bit too close for us."

He later landed the plane safely.

The report said a member of the military's HQ Air Ops told the investigating board that it was "disappointing" that the Tornado formation leader chose to continue the simulated attack after being told of the civilian aircraft's approach to the runway.

The report suggested that there may have been a breakdown in communication about the plans for the military exercise.

It recommended that HQ Air Command review the planning, co-ordination and execution of simulated attacks against targets in the vicinity of civilian airfields.

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