Planes `seconds from crash'

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Two airliners came close to a potential mid-air collision as they were on approach to Heathrow Airport, London, a union said last night.

A woman air traffic controller averted a potential collision on Tuesday between a KLM Boeing 737 from Amsterdam and a SAS airliner with more than 200 people aboard.

The Dutch aircraft was in a stack at 16,000ft and the Scandinavian plane was at 14,000ft. It was cleared to descend to 15,000ft but, "bust" that level and reached 14,100ft. At that point, it claims, the two aircraft were flying within 100ft vertically of each other and, horizontally, would have been less than two seconds apart if they been heading towards each other.

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