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TCAS averts near miss between Qatar 787 and Ethiopian A350 over Somalia

Monday February 26, 2024


Mogadishu (HOL) - A potentially catastrophic mid-air collision was narrowly averted on Saturday, February 24, as a Qatar Airways Boeing 787 and an Ethiopian Airlines Airbus A350 came dangerously close to colliding over Somali airspace.

The incident, which occurred around 09:32 UTC, has raised significant concerns about aviation safety in the region.

The Somali Civil Aviation Authority said that it is launching an investigation. 

Flying between Doha and Entebbe, the Qatar Airways flight, with registration A7-BCN, received conflicting instructions from air traffic controllers in Mogadishu, directing it to ascend to 40,000 feet despite already cruising at 38,000 feet. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Airlines flight, registered as ET-ATY, was en route from Addis Ababa to Dubai, further complicating the airspace dynamics over Somaliland.

According to reports, the Qatar Airways Boeing 787 was maintaining a steady altitude of 38,000 feet when the conflicting instructions were received. However, the Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) onboard the aircraft promptly alerted the crew to the presence of the Ethiopian Airlines A350, which was flying at 39,000 feet. Following TCAS instructions, the Qatar Airways flight descended back to 38,000 feet, averting what could have been a disastrous collision.

Both flights managed to land safely at their respective destinations, with QR1383 touching down at Entebbe Airport at 11:58 UTC and ET602 arriving in Dubai at 12:05 UTC. Despite the close call, neither airline commented on the near collision.

Several reports have surfaced in recent weeks indicating troubling scenarios within the Mogadishu Flight Information Region (FIR), including unauthorized controllers issuing contradictory instructions to nearly a dozen aircraft. 

Under a new communication system implemented by Somalia, all aircraft are now under communication control from Mogadishu, aiming to streamline operations and address airspace security concerns.

Recent comments from Somalia's Minister of Transport and Aviation, MP Fardowsa Osman Egal, reveal growing frustrations over disruptions caused by the Somaliland administration to aircraft using Somali airspace. Minister Osman warned of potential legal action if such actions persist, raising the possibility of redirecting international flights originally destined for Hargeisa through Mogadishu.


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