Two Ryanair planes narrowly avoided crash, investigation finds

·2-min read
A Ryanair Boeing 737-800 (Getty Images)
A Ryanair Boeing 737-800 (Getty Images)

Two Ryanair planes had a near miss at Malaga airport two years ago, an investigation has concluded, almost colliding in what investigators have called a “serious incident”.

The official investigation by Spain’s civil aviation authority yesterday revealed that an air traffic controller at the Andalucia airport had given one Ryanair flight permission to land on a runway from which another Ryanair flight had been given permission to take off.

The distance between the two Boeing 737s was, at its closest, 520 metres - 16 per cent of the minimum recommended safety margin, which was the length of the runway (3,200 metres).

“There was no degree of assurance that the regulatory separation could be maintained, as the aircraft on approach was travelling faster than the aircraft on take-off, increasingly reducing the separation between the aircraft,” reads the official report.

The incident occurred on 11 September 2019 at 7.50pm local time, with nearly 400 passengers aboard the two planes.

The plane landing had flown in from Germany, carrying 186 people, while the one taking off was bound for Liverpool, with 185 aboard.

Crew from the departing flight told the investigation they were given clearance for an immediate take-off without the air traffic controller ever informing them that an aircraft was on its final approach.

The report also showed that weather and visibility had been good at the time of the incident, while the volume of flights coming in and out of Malaga was not deemed to be a factor.

“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 distances,” concluded the report.

It gave “deficient planning” by an air traffic controller when scheduling a take-off in a gap between landings, and failure to cancel the take off, as contributing factors.

A Ryanair spokesperson said: “We welcome this CIAIAC investigation report, which confirms the Ryanair pilots acted fully in accordance with procedure when reacting to this ATC error. The safety of our passengers and crew remains Ryanair’s number one priority.”

The Independent has contacted Malaga Airport for comment.

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