There was a “serious incident” between two airplanes in the skies above Ghent on New Year’s Day. The story was published on the VRT site deredactie.be on Saturday. The Mobility SPF and Belgocontrol, which manages Belgian airspace, confirmed it when speaking to Belga. Belgocontrol claimed there had been no mistakes on its side.
“An inquiry has been opened after there was an incident between two airplanes in the skies above the Ghent region on the 1st of January”, says Sven Heyndrickx, the spokesman for the Mobility SPF. The Air Accident Investigation Unit (AAIU), which is part of the Mobility SPF, has opened an inquiry.
Belgocontrol also confirmed the incident. Its spokesman said it had done exactly what it was supposed to and given appropriate instructions. It has also opened its own internal inquiry. Belgocontrol informed the AAIU about the incident immediately.
VRT said an Egyptian cargo-plane, an Airbus A300 which had taken off from Ostende Airport, almost collided with an Air France commercial flight. The French airplane was an Airbus A320, flying from Paris to Amsterdam.
VRT said the French plane was at 22,000 feet (6,000 metres) and descending when it almost hit the Egyptian cargo-plane. The cargo-plane was at 21,000 feet and going up.
The Egyptair plane ignored air-traffic controller’s instructions to slow its ascent three times. The Egyptian plane continued to ignore air-traffic controller’s instructions even after the TCAS alarm system (which warns the crew of imminent danger) went off.
The distance between the two planes was just 90 feet vertically and 1,370 feet horizontally when they passed each other.
It was described as a “serious incident” in a provisional report.