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FlySafair are bringing back their popular low-cost flight sales – Photo: Jonathan Khoo / Flickr

FlySafair flight carrying 164 people ‘came very close’ to mid-air collision

The SA Civil Aviation Authority has filed a report for a ‘near miss’ in the Eastern Cape, after a student pilot almost crashed into a FlySafair plane.

FlySafair flight tickets

FlySafair are bringing back their popular low-cost flight sales – Photo: Jonathan Khoo / Flickr

A student pilot operating a small aircraft learnt a lesson he’d never forgot last month, after he came within just over 30 metres of making contact with a Boeing 737 during a mix-up at an Eastern Cape airport. The FlySafair flight had 164 people on board, and only just managed to avoid disaster.

Student pilot almost collides with FlySafair plane

The student pilot behind the controls of the microlight apparently had ‘an excellent grasp of the English language’, so air traffic control officials were baffled when he failed to understand the most basic of commands – after he was told to make a right turn to avoid the oncoming FlySafair jet, the 33-year-old learner went left instead.

This appeared to put both planes on a collision course with each other, as the commercial airliner continued its descent. For one terrifying moment, ATC saw a ‘loss of separation’ between the aircraft. This means that there was no telling them apart on the radar, given their extremely close proximity to each other.

SACAA reveal ’30-metre close shave’ between two jets

Thankfully, the worst-case scenario was avoided – by the barest of margins. There were no injuries to report, and both flights made safe landings. The SA Civil Aviation Authority has not attributed any blame to either pilot, and their investigation is still ongoing. The student pilot, meanwhile, still has his license to fly as a learner.

“On Wednesday morning, 25 August 2021 at 7:21, a Piper PA-28R-200 (Prima 285) aircraft with registration ZS-PTV and a Boeing 737-400 (FlySafair 142) aircraft with registration ZS-JRE were both approaching East London Aerodrome (FAEL) at about the same time.”

“The aerodrome instructed Prima 285 (ZS-PTV) to make a right turn to allow FlySafair 142 (ZS-JRE) to land after air traffic control (ATC) cleared it for landing on Runway 11 at FAEL – however, the pilot of Prima 285 (ZS-PTV) deviated from ATC’s instruction and turned left instead. The deviation from instructions led to a loss of separation between the aircraft.”

“FlySafair 142 (ZS-JRE) landed safely and, thereafter, vacated the runway. Prima 285 (ZS-PTV) conducted one touch-and-go landing, reported safely airborne and, thereafter, routed outbound via Keyser’s Beach. No injuries resulted from this serious incident and neither aircraft sustained damage.”

SACAA report