A pilot narrowly avoided a mid-air crash with another aircraft after helping an airsick passenger as he flew into Doncaster.
The pilot of the single engine Robin 2160 aeroplane said he did not see the larger, twin-engine passenger aircraft in a ‘near miss’ just south of Doncaster.
He had been trying to get a sick bag for his passenger before the incident took place, it was revealed in a report.
The report also described a Doncaster Air Traffic controller as ‘not effectively integrating’ the two aircraft.
The incident was made subject of an official report of a ‘near miss’ in Doncaster Robin Hood Airport’s airspace.
The incident happened between Doncaster and Worksop.
Neither of the pilots are named in the report, which was published by the UK Airprox Board, which investigated the incident.
The pilot of the Robin 2160 was flying around the Retford area and had just been given clearance to enter Doncaster airspace when it entered a patch of haze.
an area of haze and had to deal with a case of airsickness on board.
“He could not reach the sick bag in a pocket near his left foot, so he loosened his straps and during this time he diverged from his heading.”
The air traffic controller asked him what he was doing, but the radio channel was busy with other aircraft, including an aeroplane with a similar call sign, which meant the pilot was not sure if he was being spoken to.
He did not see the other aircraft involved in the ‘near miss’ and was not told to take any avoiding action.
The pilot of the larger PA 31 was manoeuvring for his final approach into Doncaster at the time when the person sitting next to him, also a qualified pilot, called: “Look out, aircraft ahead.”
He initially could not see the other aircraft, but the report said that it appeared dead ahead two seconds later.
The aircraft was around seven miles from Sandtoft, and the pilot had just been asked to either head towards Sheffield or Sandtoft.
The report said the pilot of the smaller aeroplane had not told the controller in Doncaster he had just flown into cloud, or that he was trying to deal with a case of airsickness on board.
It added: “Notwithstanding the fact that the Robin pilot would still have maintained a robust lookout, the cause was determined therefore to be that the controller did not effectively integrate the Robin with the PA31.”
The said safety margins had been ‘much reduced below the norm’.
The UK Airprox Board says its primary objective is to enhance air safety in the UK, in particular in respect of lessons to be learned and applied from Airprox occurrences reported within UK airspace.
An Airprox is a situation when, in the opinion of a pilot or air traffic services personnel, the distance between aircraft as well as their relative positions and speed have been such that the safety of the aircraft involved may have been compromised.
A spokesman for Robin Hood Airport said: “The Air Traffic Controller involved immediately reported their error and as part of agreed local and national protocols has since successfully undertaken a period of retraining.
“In addition, as part of Air Traffic Control Services Limited commitment to its safety culture, a local investigation has been completed too see what if any lessons can be learned in order to reduce the likelihood of a similar event.”