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RAF Tornado in microlight ‘near-miss’

GR4 Tornado at RAF Marham

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Tornados, which can be flown to a height of 50,000 ft (15,240m), are based at RAF Marham in Norfolk

An RAF fighter pilot left “little margin for error” in a near-miss with a landing microlight, a report said.

The Tornado was flying at about 483mph (777kmh) near Headon airfield in Nottinghamshire when it passed 300ft (91.5m) beneath the microlight, a UK Airprox report said.

It also emerged the civilian airfield was marked in the wrong spot on military maps by half a mile.

The near-miss on 2 October 2015 was reported by the microlight pilot.

The report said that the Tornado pilot was “entitled to fly where he had”, but said he should have left more room for manoeuvre.

The pilot had failed to spot the smaller aircraft as he passed 500ft (152m) above the ground.

The Airprox report ruled it was a Category A incident because “a serious risk of collision” existed.

“The Tornado pilot would probably have been better placed to have remained at height until further north due to the myriad of small airfields and avoidances in that particular area,” the report stated.

“Essentially, the Tornado pilot was threading the gap very finely between these airfields and… he had left very little margin for error and would have been wiser to have allowed himself much more room to manoeuvre.”

The RAF said the near-miss showed “how important it is to remain vigilant during all phases of flight” and added “lookout training (for pilots) is under constant review and assessment”.

The report also recommended the use of transponders – which can communicate with other aircraft – on light aircraft after it emerged the microlight was not equipped with one.

It also said the Airprox board was “heartened to hear from the military low-flying representative that the military charts were being amended to place Headon in the correct position”.

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