October 22nd, 2013
12:23 PM ET

Two 747s Came Close to Colliding

Two Boeing 747 jumbo jets came dangerously close to a collision mid-air over Scotland and British investigators say it's because the pilots didn't follow the instructions from air traffic control.

CNN's Rene Marsh reports.

At their closest point, the two planes were about three miles apart horizontally and 100 feet apart vertically,  that's under the minimum separation requirement.

The planes automatic alarms alerted the pilots and they corrected their paths.  Former FAA Accident Investigator Steven Wallace says it's rare for pilots to get the instructions so wrong but the safety nets kicked in.

He says that should give comfort to airline passengers.

Aviation Attorney Mary Schiavo, says she thinks some of "the transmissions were on top of each other, that they were garbled, and there's some criticism due, I think, for the air traffic controller. The air traffic controller saw the conflict looming but did not act immediately to separate the planes further."

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