SAS plane “40 seconds from collision”

Two passenger planes were just 40 seconds away from colliding in the air over Kristiansand in Norway on Saturday. The incident will now be investigated, say the Norwegian authorities.

One of the aircraft was an SAS plane on its way from Copenhagen to Washington, while the other, operated by KLM, was flying from Trondheim to Amsterdam. In total they had 350 passengers on board, according to the Norwegian paper Dagbladet.

“On the control room’s radar system the positions for the planes had merged together. The planes were dangerously close to each other and the incident was very serious,” said a source at Norway’s air traffic control to the paper.

Both planes were at 11,000 metres when the anti-collision TCAS-system on one of the planes sounded. The source said that this prevented a mid-air crash, as one was able to drop quickly while the other ascended.

“Someone obviously made a mistake,” said Dagbladet’s source. But whether the incident was caused by human or technical error is still not clear and Kristiansand air traffic control has launched an internal investigation.

Bart Koster, press officer at KLM, told Svenska Dagbladet that the matter had been reported by the pilots to the Dutch authorities.

“We’re taking this very seriously. This happens to KLM’s planes maybe once or twice a year. But the good news is that the warning system worked,” he said.