Spain’s Civil Aviation Accident and Incident Investigation Commission (CIAIAC) has shared a report on a close call that happened in November last year. A Wizz Air A320 nearly collided with an Air Europa Express Embraer ERJ-195.
The Aviation Herald reports that on November 10th, a Wizz A320-200, registration HA-LPM was performing flight W6-3763 from Craiova, Romania. It was flying at FL310, at around 110nm while on the way to its destination to the Spanish capital. This is before it was cleared to descend to FL300 on its approach.
Meanwhile, An Air Europa Express Embraer ERJ-195, registration EC-KRJ was operating flight UX-1084 from Venice, Italy. While east of Madrid, it was flying at FL290, at around 110nm on the same airway as the Wizz aircraft. Additionally, it was operating right below the A320.
Thereafter, the Hungarian airline’s plane descended below its cleared flight level of 300 and reached FL292 before once again ascending. The CIAIAC confirms that the two jets got even closer with a distance of 200 feet vertical and 0.2nm horizontal between them.
When air traffic control (ATC) noticed the A320 descending below its approved level, the plane was ordered to climb once again.
What does the report say?
CIAIAC states that the ultimate cause of this incident was that the crew of the A320 heard incorrect information.
“The loss of separation occurred because the crew of the Airbus received an erroneous instruction with respect to the flight level to descent to,” CIAIAC’s report states, as per The Aviation Herald.
“Contributing factor was the saturation of the control frequency due to many aircraft contacting ATC at the same time causing communication difficulties.”
The report explains that the Wizz crew members were instructed to lower to FL300 but they didn’t answer. Therefore, ATC repeated its demand but accidentally instructed them to descend to FL200. During the incident, The Air Europa express crew received a TCAS Traffic advisory for seven seconds. However, no TCAS advisory was recorded in the A320.
In order to prevent any crisis, ground staff instructed the Air Europa crew to perform an evasive maneuver to their right.
After being cleared of conflict, both aircraft continued to Madrid for safe landings. The pair eventually landed at Madrid runway 18L without any further issues.
Altogether, the report shows that the error was not at the fault of the planes’ operators. This is because they were only following what they heard from air traffic control.
Simple Flying reached out to Wizz Air and Air Europa for comment on last year’s incident but did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further information.
What are your thoughts on how this error occurred? Let us know what you think in the comment section.