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Jets in near collision.

TWO jets with 268 people aboard narrowly avoided a collision over Indonesia after an apparent blunder by air traffic controllers,Air New Zealand's chief pilot said yesterday.

A collision was averted after inboard safety equipment warned the crew of an Air New Zealand plane that a Qantas jet was climbing into their air space off the coast of Irian Jay a west of Papua New Guinea.

The two Boeing 767s were hurtling toward each other at a combined speed of about 1,085 mph,pilots told New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority.

The Qantas plane came within 400 feet of the Air New Zealand plane's approved altitude of 36,000 feet and only about 2,600 feet separated the two craft horizontally, theNew Zealand pilots said in a report.

Aircraft are supposed to be separated vertically by 1,000 feet and horizontally by five nautical miles at that altitude.

Air New Zealand chief pilot David Morgan, who is in charge of flight operations, said the pilots were warned by an inboard safety system that the Qantas plane ``climbed through the Air New Zealand aircraft's altitude''.

``We do expect an answer from the Indonesia authorities as to exactly what did happen,''he said.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 25, 2004
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