Monday, February 16, 2009

Getting careless

First we have satellites crashing in space and now this :-

A £25million Tornado was hurtling across flat countryside on a simulated mission when a £2million two-seat RAF Tucano trainer crossed its path just 30 feet in front of its nose.

The pilot of the Tornado exclaimed, “Jesus! “F*** me sideways!” as the turboprop Tucano appeared from the left on a collision course at a combined closing speed of 850mph.

Fortunately the pilot of the Tornado was able to bank to the right and swing his jet round averting a collision which would have engulfed both planes in a massive fireball with four deaths.

and then:-

The Royal Navy’s HMS Vanguard and the French Navy’s Le Triomphant, both nuclear powered and carrying nuclear missiles, collided deep under the Atlantic.

A senior Navy source said, “the potential consequences are unthinkable".

As inquiries began, naval sources said it was a millions-to-one unlucky chance both subs were in the same patch of sea. Warships have sonar gear which locates submarines by sound waves. But modern anti-sonar technology is so good it is possible neither boat “saw” the other.

The naval source said: “Crashing a nuclear submarine is as serious as it gets.”

The Vanguard was last night towed into Faslane in Scotland, with dents and scrapes visible on her hull whilst Le Triomphant limped to Brest with extensive damage to her sonar dome

1 comment:

Pete said...

Two interesting stories there Keith.

With the first one, it's hard to say who is to blame. The skies are more crowded than we think, and whilst ATC should have had the craft well separated we're dealing with small areas and very high speeds. The Tornado pilot couldn't see his target...was he in fact off course? It wouldn't take much. As for the Tucano pilot - he's certainly not going to see a 500mph object at sub 1,000 feet altitude by visual scanning. The electronics and controllers may well have let someone down here.

Whatever the errors, let's salute the pilots. That's one razor sharp jet pilot who pulled off an amazing manoeuvre and an equally great Tucano pilot dealing with a massive amount of wake turbulence. Let's hope they both learned something!

The second incident seems not just explainable but in some ways inevitable. OK, we're not at war in the North Atlantic, but we're still dealing with two machines that were designed from the outset to be invisible. If they're patrolling the same deep sea corridors then there was always a good chance that if they got close together they would collide. Good job nothing too disastrous happened.