Near-miss RAF pilot may have been on a 'high'

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The Independent Online

Up to 80 airline passengers narrowly escaped disaster when a Jaguar fighter plane flying at 350mph came within 100ft of a head-on collision with their aircraft, officials reported.

The pilot of the RAF jet rocketed upwards into a cloud without proper authorisation, according to an investigation by a Civil Aviation Authority board, which said the incident, in July last year, was one of the most serious it had examined.

The flight crew of the RJ85 British Aerospace plane heard and saw the fighter as it hurtled past them about 25 miles south east of Newcastle airport, but the RAF pilot was unaware of the near miss, the authority's "Airprox" board found.

Some sources said the military pilot, who had just completed an exercise, was on a "high" after registering a "kill". The pilot is thought to have been disciplined, but whether he still flies high-performance aircraft is not known.

The board's report for 2002 said 221 near misses were filed compared with 195 in the previous year. There were 81 incidents involving commercial aircraft, compared with 82 in the previous year.