The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam has launched an investigation into an incident in which a Vietnam Airlines passenger airplane nearly collided with one from Jetstar Pacific last month.
The incident happened near Tan Son Nhat Airport in Ho Chi Minh City on the afternoon of December 19, when the northbound Vietnam Airlines plane was taking off while the other was heading toward the airport, the news website VnExpress reported Saturday.
Preliminary investigations found that air routes had not been designed properly while air traffic controllers were insufficiently qualified to provide suitable advice to pilots, who instead had to rely on their planes' traffic collision avoidance systems.
According to the aviation authority, a controller had told the Vietnam Airlines pilot to ascend to 270 meters while the Jetstar Pacific plane was at the 320 meters heading in from the opposite direction.
When the VA pilot was told to go up to the 330 meters, the warning system of the plane indicated that another plane was dangerously close and the pilot followed the system's advice to stop at 313 meters.
At one point, the planes were less than 17 kilometers from each other.
At the meantime, a controller asked the Jetstar Pacific pilot to turn left to avoid the VA plane, but the Jetstar pilot, also following the advice of its warning system, had ascended five meters further, before turning left.