Government Survey plane bungle nearly causes accident at Brentor Airfield
By Dartmoor Gliding Society Ltd | Friday, October 18, 2013, 08:43
A survey plane operated by an African company, Fugro, has been conducting low level surveys of Devon and Cornwall.
This involves flying north south tracks about 200m apart and below 300ft above the ground.
Special approval has been given by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to fly at these normally illegal heights. The approval required Fugro to contact all airfields and danger areas before the flights commenced.
On the 5th October they failed to do this and the planned flight went directly over the airfield 7 times!
The airfield was busy with gliders launching on a winch system. Gliders launch at over 1000ft per minute on a steel cable.
A glider was being launched, when unknown to the airfield operators the survey aircraft appeared over the horizon at over 100 miles per hour.
The airfield operations were stopped while the operators tried to make contact with the aircraft. The aircraft appeared to continue operations oblivious to the danger. The aircraft reappeared some 20 minutes later on a north south track directly over the winch.
Air Traffic Controllers from Cardiff eventually managed to make contact with the pilot, radio transmissions are unreliable at low altitudes.
The incident was reported to the CAA , and investigated by both the CAA and Fugro.
The pilot had failed to notice the gliding field on his aeronautical chart or understand the dangers involved overflying areas like these. Thankfully no one was injured.