Probe launched into averted midair jet crash

The Swedish Accident Investigation Board (Statens haverikommission) will investigate an incident when two passenger jets nearly collided with each other over Östersund in central Sweden earlier this month.

Probe launched into averted midair jet crash
Photo: Johan Nilsson/Scanpix (file)

The flight paths crossed each other and both planes were flying at 11,000 metres, posing an obvious collision risk with regard to speed. At one point, the two Boeings, a 737 operated by SAS and a 757 operated by Finnair, were flying less than 300 metres from each other.

The incident will now be investigated by the board in conjunction with aviation authority LFV, wrote newspaper Länstidningen in Östersund. Judging by the investigators’ preliminary comments, many details remain unclear about the incident, which could have ended in disaster.

“What I know at present is that the planes met at the same altitude and were not adequately separated,” said Carl-Erik Nilsson at LFV’s security department.

“One of them received direct orders to alter its altitude, but it was too late. Normally, planes are warned very early. Everything goes smoothly if one follows the instructions, but these measures do not seem to have been taken,” he added.

The Boeing 737 had about 130 passengers on board and the 757 around 280. The SAS plane was on its way to Oslo, while the Finnair flight was flying to Helsinki.

“This is unusual and very serious,” Martin Ohman, president of the Swedish Airline Pilots Association’s (Svensk Pilotföreningen) flight safety committee and himself a pilot, told the newspaper.

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‘We agree to disagree’: Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

By lunchtime on Friday, talks between the Scandinavian airline SAS and unions representing striking pilots were still stuck on "difficult issues".

'We agree to disagree': Still no progress in marathon SAS strike talks

“We agree that we disagree,” Roger Klokset, from the Norwegian pilots’ union, said at lunchtime outside the headquarters of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise in Stockholm, where talks are taking place. “We are still working to find a solution, and so long as there is still some point in continuing negotiations, we will do that.” 

Mats Ruland, a mediator for the Norwegian government, said that there were “still several difficult issues which need to be solved”. 

At 1pm on Friday, the two sides took a short break from the talks for lunch, after starting at 9am. On Thursday, they negotiated for 15 hours, breaking off at 1am on Friday morning. 

READ ALSO: What’s the latest on the SAS plane strike?

Marianne Hernæs, SAS’s negotiator on Friday told journalists she was tired after sitting at the negotiating table long into the night. 

“We need to find a model where we can meet in the middle and which can ensure that we pull in the income that we are dependent on,” she said. 

Klokset said that there was “a good atmosphere” in the talks, and that the unions were sticking together to represent their members.

“I think we’ve been extremely flexible so far. It’s ‘out of this world’,’ said Henrik Thyregod, with the Danish pilots’ union. 

“This could have been solved back in December if SAS had not made unreasonable demands on the pilots,” Klokset added. 

The strike, which is now in its 12th day, has cost SAS up to 130m kronor a day, with 2,550 flights cancelled by Thursday, affecting 270,000 passengers.