UNUSUAL / Air traffic control error: an Airbus A350 and a Boeing 787 almost collided in the sky


Last Saturday, February 24, an Ethiopian Airlines Airbus A350-900 flying from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Dubai (United Arab Emirates) almost collided in the sky with a Qatar Airways Boeing 787 flying from Doha to Entebbe in Uganda. .

The Qatar Airways flight (Qatar 6U) which came from the valley to Entebbe and was flying at a constant altitude of 38.000 feet was wrongly informed by controllers in Mogadishu (capital of Somalia) to climb to 40.000 feet. The incident, which could have been dramatic, was therefore due to an error by Somali air traffic control. Hundreds of passengers on the two airliners came close to death without realizing it. The Somali authorities are investigating this incident which occurred above the Gulf of Aden during which the two planes were flying at the same altitude, face to face: “The planes were at a dangerous distance from each other” specify the authorities concerned. Luckily, the TCAS (Traffic Prevention Collision System) system of the Ethiopian Airlines Airbus and that of the Qatar Airways Boeing alerted the pilots and reported the presence of the other plane considered at a critical distance. As they are programmed to do, the two systems coordinated their evasive maneuvers in the vertical plane. TCAS tells one plane to climb and the other to descend, which significantly increases the vertical distance between the two planes. Without the device alerting, the two aircraft would have collided, causing a major air tragedy. This sad event illustrates the conflict between Somalia and the self-proclaimed independent republic of Somaliland, a state not internationally recognized and considered part of Somalia. The two entities compete for the airspace located between the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, including the Gulf of Aden, where the tragedy was narrowly avoided. However, it is Somalia which has been responsible for directing planes in the region since 2019 by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In a statement, Somaliland civil aviation points out the errors of Somali controllers and accuses them of being responsible for the misunderstanding. In response, the Somali Civil Aviation Agency (SCAA) reassuringly stated on social media that “there is no insecurity or security danger in Somali skies”. The investigation by the Somali authorities will aim to shed light on this story. _VX

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