North West Wales

Tornado jets in near miss with glider over Betws y Coed

Image caption Two jets were on a low-level tactical sortie when the incident happened.

Details of an aircraft near miss involving two RAF Tornado jets and a glider have been released by inspectors.

It happened above Betws y Coed in April, but has just been published by the UK Airprox Board which looks after air safety.

The glider pilot reported one of the jets was within 100ft of his craft.

Pilots can report a near miss, known as an airprox, when they feel the distance between aircraft may compromise safety.

The UK Airprox Board report says the incident has been rated the most serious category for a near miss.

The jets were on a low-level tactical sortie when the incident happened.

The document says once clear of the glider they positioned to confirm the pilot, who set off from Lleweni Parc Airfield, Denbigh, was unaffected.

"The glider pilot, understandably due to the geometry of the incident, did not see either Tornado until after they had passed," said the report.


"He became aware of a fast jet passing R to L behind and below his left wing immediately followed by another passing much closer (first seen about 100m away) and below his right wing while in a right turn; he estimates that at the closest point it was 30m away."

He took no avoiding action as there was no time but assessed the risk of collision as being high, said the report.

It revealed only one of the Tornado GR4 pilots saw the glider and while taking avoiding action its effectiveness would have been marginal because of the speed the jet was going.

The report recommends both RAF Valley, Anglesey, and the local glider club have more communication to ensure they can manage risk effectively in future.

"Recognising that the main risk will be from a Valley-based Hawk, it has been suggested... that a representative from the gliding club visits RAF Valley," it added

However, it acknowledged both the Tornado station and the gliding community "co-operated well and quickly identified the glider involved in this incident, facilitating speedy and accurate reporting".

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