Two planes escaped a mid-air collision last Sunday, July 24, due to timely action by TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System)the anti-collision instrument present in the cabin of today’s commercial aircraft.
As can be seen from the flight tracking tools, the case involved two Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) aircraft, one Boeing 777 and one Airbus A320, as they crossed Iranian airspace. Although reports point to possible negligence by air traffic control, the incident is still being investigated by authorities.
The planes involved
As you can see in the image from FlightRadar24, below, a Boeing 777-200, registration AP-BGJ, was on flight PK-211 from Islamabad (Pakistan) to Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and was en route at FL360 (36,000 feet or about 10,800 meters) about 310 km northeast of Dubai in Iranian airspace.
On the reverse path was an Airbus A320, registration AP-BLW, performing flight PK-286 from Doha (Qatar) to Peshawar (Pakistan), already stabilized en route at FL350 (35,000 feet or about 10,500 meters) at about 290 km northeast of Dubai.
At this time, Air Traffic Control (ATC) of the Tehran Center authorized the Boeing 777 aircraft to descend to FL200 for landing in Dubai. This caused the triple-seven to start a course towards the A320, which was flying slightly below.
Upon coming dangerously close, the two aircraft registered TCAS alerts and commanded evasive maneuvers to avoid collision. In the resolutions defined by the equipment, the PK-211 was made to go up and the PK-286 to go down. The FR24 image below shows the result of the deviations.
To the Daily Times, PIA said that captains Samiullah was flying the Airbus A320 while pilot Athar Haroon was in the left side of the Boeing 777 cabin. The company said it had written to the Iranian official asking for clarification on the case and what happened wrong for your aircraft to enter a collision course.
Below is the video with the playback of FlightRadar24, where you can see the two aircraft approaching and dodging at the last moment.
In January 2022, an identical case was reported in South Sudan, when two Air Mauritius Airbus A350s went on a collision course and were also saved by the aircraft’s TCAS. At the time, the serious incident would have been caused by an error by the air traffic controller, which put the two aircraft on a collision course.