Charter aircraft forced to fly under glider at 14,000ft

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A CHARTER aircraft flying out of Manchester airport had to take evasive action when it encountered a glider at 14,000ft.

The incident near Wrexham in north Wales, last Saturday, highlights the dangers posed by gliders, which are allowed to cross major flight paths provided visibility is good and they take care.

The Monarch Airlines Airbus 320, with about 185 passengers and crew aboard en route to the Spanish island of Ibiza, had been cleared by air traffic control to climb to 17,000ft when, at 14,000ft, the pilots saw the glider about two miles ahead.

There was good visibility as the glider was between cloud levels. A spokesman for Monarch said: 'The pilots had to disengage the autopilot and level off to fly underneath the glider. Gliders are very difficult to spot on radar because they leave a very faint footprint, especially now that they are built of fibreglass. There was, however, no danger.'

A spokesman for Balpa, the pilots' association, said: 'This episode is yet another example of the folly of allowing gliders to cross busy air channels. One day it could cause untold disaster. There's always a danger of wreckage being drawn into the engines. It's high time aviation laws surrounding gliders were tightened up to avoid a major tragedy.'

The glider pilot, who would have needed oxygen at 14,000ft, has not been traced.