Planes dodge mid-air smash.
Only an automated signal prevented a repeat of the disaster over Germany which left 71 dead last Monday.
The near tragedy came 18,000 feet above Powys in Wales on Wednesday.
A British Airways-owned Embraer 145 - travelling from Glasgow to Bristol - almost collided with a BA De Havilland Canada Dash 8.
The planes' traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) turned on a flashing light and wailing siren as the planes roared towards doom.
The Embraer, carrying 47 people, had dropped from 25,000 to 19,000 feet as it approached to land.
But it descended below the level given by air traffic controllers at the UK hub in Swanwick, Hampshire.
The De Havilland, travelling from Bristol to Newcastle, had 26 people aboard. Air traffic control sources said the planes were "100 to 500ft" from disaster.
One controller said: "It was a terrifying incident and astonishing that it could happen so soon after the disaster in Germany.
"Controllers simply didn't react fast enough - and that's what partly caused disaster on Monday.
"It's another embarrassment for the new, much vaunted Swanwick centre."
Swiss air traffic control admitted their TCAS system was off at the time of Monday's crash.
BA said they would co-operate with the National Air Traffic Services investigation into the incident, which involved planes run by their City Express subsidiary.
The Swanwick centre has been touted as the centrepiece of PM Tony Blair's plan to "privatise the skies".
But its computers have repeatedly blacked-out since it opened last January.
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|Publication:||Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)|
|Date:||Jul 5, 2002|
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