Monday, 5 august 2002
Early July two aircraft collided in mid air. collision course
  • The British BBC soon reported conclusions of the Swiss:
    The Russian pilot made mistakes (
  • The Russian Pravda reported a completely different story:
    Swiss air traffic control was a big mess (
The data from the Tupolev's black box confirms the Pravda reports ( The instructions of the Swiss air traffic control contradicted the advice of the air collision prevention system

To my amazement, nobody talks about improving the emergency procedures.

  • It must be possible to prevent such a mid air crash, in spite of troublesome communication in the final seconds.
  • Why have an emergency procedure in just one dimension (up, down), where a plane is free to move into three directions?
  • Why use a procedure that is such error prone and time consuming?
My memories from sailing lessons tell me a simple rule for ships on a collision course: Aircraft diverting right to avoid collision.
  1. The one sailing closes tot the wind maintains course.
  2. The other ship, having superior manoeuvring possibilities, clearly changes course.
Things are easier on the water, only 2 dimensions and much lower speeds.

Aircraft have 3 dimensions for manoeuvring. Two are sufficient to avoid a crash. My proposal, a new rule for a eminent mid air crash:

Both aircraft divert right immediately.

  1. A simple rule it is.
    Misunderstandings between pilots, systems and air traffic control are impossible.
  2. Both pilots can take action immediately.
    No waste of valuable seconds on communication and interpretation.
  3. The system is rather fail proof.
    It only fails if both pilots maintain their old course.
Till next week,