Mid-air crash above Eastbourne narrowly avoided

Mid-air collision avoided'Photo courtesy of Airprox Board SUS-170108-104740001
Mid-air collision avoided'Photo courtesy of Airprox Board SUS-170108-104740001

Two aircraft narrowly avoided a head on collision above Eastbourne because a pilot took split-second evasive action, it has emerged.

Footage shows a Cessna Citation jet and a microlite narrowly missing each other by less than 100 feet above Beachy Head.

Microlight pilot Tom Harding was teaching a student on a test flight at the time but was able to “execute a steep turn to the right” when the Cessna came towards them at around 1.45pm.

According to a recent report by the UK Airprox Board, which works to enhance air safety, the risk of a collision was “high”.

The report said the microlite pilot only saw the Cessna coming at the last minute and a mid-air crash at 3,400 feet was avoided.

Microlite flying instructor Tom Harding said the Cessna had taken “no evasive action” to avoid the crash.

The pilot of the Cessna, who is not named in the report, said he had not seen the microlite approaching before the near miss.

The Cessna pilot had been flying towards Mayfield but had deviated from an original flight path and left controlled airspace.

The report into the incident on March 7 concluded there had been “a serious risk of collision” and assessed the risk as Category A.

The Airprox board questioned the Cessna’s decision to deviate from its planned route and leave controlled airspace and said it was surprised the plane’s collision avoidance system did not alert the pilot of the oncoming microlite.

It also suggested both pilots should have been speaking on the same radar traffic frequency.

The microlite pilot was commended for taking evasive action avoiding the collision.

Student pilot Tom McNicholas who was onboard the microlite told the Flying Reporter YouTube channel, “We went up for a training flight to teach about stall awareness and how to recover from stalls.

“I’d just finished recovering from a stall so I passed control over to my instructor.

“I looked up out the window and saw this jet flying straight at us. By the time it was next to us, he was extremely close to us – you could make out the whole jet and everything.

“It shook me up a bit. I couldn’t believe that we got that close.”