Two Tornado jets from RAF Marham involved in near miss with glider

Photo of an RAF Tornado GR4. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Photo of an RAF Tornado GR4. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Two Tornado jets from RAF Marham were involved in a near miss with a glider as it took part in a competition, a report has revealed.

The Ventus glider was at one point said to be 200ft away from the fighter jets as they prepared to land in West Norfolk last August.

It was one of several gliders following a route which passed only half-a-mile away from the Marham traffic zone that day.

The UK Airprox Board said that competition planners had 'forgotten' to tell Norwich Air Traffic Control or 'thought to tell' Marham about the event.

As the Tornados approached, controllers at Marham spotted about six gliders visually but were unable to see them on radar.

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The board said it could understand how the situation was a 'worrying one' for air traffic control.

It said the controllers had gone to great effort to contact the gliders, but had been unable to reach them.

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The Tornados pilots, meanwhile, had been requested to hold off from landing until the air space cleared, but they were running low on fuel.

As the jets descended to below where the gliders were reported, the formation leader received an alert indicating an aircraft 200ft above.

It was at this point the pilot spotted the glider, which was the only one to have its safety transponder turned on.

An investigation concluded that the incident was caused by a late sighting by the Tornado crew and a probable non-sighting by the glider.

But it noted that there were a number of contributing factors, including:

• The glider pilots had not called on the Marham zone frequency as briefed by competition organisers.

• Organisers had not notified local air traffic units.

• The competition's Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) had not sufficiently described the extent of the glider activity.

The board recommended the British Gliding Association should advise competition organisers how to detail plans in official alert notices for the authorities.

It also supported a recommendation made by RAF Marham's own inquiry that a collision avoidance receiver should be installed.

The report said there had been no risk of collision, but safety had been degraded.

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