TCAS prevents mid-air collision between two Air Mauritius A350s over Sudan

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Airbus A350-900 – 3B-NBQ “Pieter Both” – Air Mauritius © Olivier CABARET from Paris, France, on Wikipedia

Air Mauritius flights MK15 and MK42 flights narrowly avoid each other over Sudan

A collision in the sky between two Air Mauritius A350s was avoided thanks to the automatic pilot and the TCAS detectors of the aircraft. Eventually, the two aircraft were 800 feet apart when they passed each other at an altitude of 11,800 metres above Sudan.

It was 23:04 UTC on 6 January 2022, when the automatic pilot of two Air Mauritius Airbus A350-900 aircraft flying over Sudan suddenly changed their trajectories. Safety devices had detected a risk of collision. Flights MK015 from Paris (registered 3B-NBQ) and MK042 to London (registered 3B-NCF) passed 800 metres apart at an altitude of 11,800 metres (FL390) and despite the airspace available, they were on the same route, as confirmed by the Flightradar24 site. An aerial tragedy has just been narrowly avoided.

L’Express de Maurice, which reveals the incident, specifies: “Flight MK042, which came from Mauritius, would have asked permission from the Sudanese controller to gain altitude, that is to say to climb from 38,000 at 40,000 feet, no doubt to be able to reach its cruising speed and save fuel, after the plane had already burned a good part of it, particularly during takeoff. The Sudanese controller granted this permission, while the other aircraft, MK015, which was coming in the opposite direction, was at 39,000 feet. This posed a risk of a collision between the two aircraft. The Sudanese controller would not have taken this into consideration“.

The A350’s Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) has just saved lives.

Errors by air traffic controllers are, fortunately, extremely rare. At the time of the incident, the co-pilots of the two planes were on duty, the commanders being off duty. The latter have the knowledge and the ability to avoid a collision, however, the radars see farther and earlier than a human.

In a press release, Air Mauritius confirmed the facts: “On the night of January 6, 2022, the minimum spacing required between two aircraft of the company was reduced over the airspace of Khartoum (Sudan). The two Airbus A350-900 planes were operating respectively flights MK015 from Paris and MK042 to London. The control tower (ATC) gave its agreement to the crew of flight MK042 to change altitude and it is during the climb that the incident occurred. The aircraft being equipped with TCAS, the warning and avoidance systems worked. An investigation is underway to determine the origin and causes of this situation.

Source: France TV info

3 COMMENTS

  1. Disappointed in this story.

    “Eventually, the two aircraft were 800 metres apart when they passed each other at an altitude of 11,800 metres above Sudan.”

    The difference was 800 feet, not 800 meters. 800 meters or 2600 feet is more than enough to satisfy RVSM.

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