RAF Marham Tornado in near-miss with paramotor over March in Cambridgeshire
PUBLISHED: 09:40 06 January 2016 | UPDATED: 09:40 06 January 2016
A Tornado jet from RAF Marham narrowly missed a paramotor from March, a report by aviation officials has said.
Both pilots assessed the risk of collision as ‘high’.
The RAF pilot believed the miss was 100 feet horizontal and 50 foot vertical.
The paramotorist said the miss was 300 feet horizontal and 350 foot vertical.
The aviation report says the warplane was circling over March before performing a flypast at Marham, in June.
It said: “A paraglider (later found to be a paramotor) was seen to pass down the right-hand side of the aircraft, at the same level, and displaced by an estimated 50-100ft. Due to the late sighting, no evasive action was taken.”
The UK Airprox Board report says the paramotor pilot, with eight years experience in the local area, had taken off from March Aerodrome, a local paramotor training school, and climbed to 1500ft, before heading towards Holbeach.
“He had been in the cruise for about three to four minutes when he saw a Tornado pass him in his 10 o’clock, at the same height and heading as he was,” the report adds.
“He noted that because it approached him from behind, he hadn’t seen it earlier. He watched it initially remain on heading before making a 90-degree turn right, heading towards King’s Lynn.”
An RAF investigation found that the paramotor did not appear on Marham’s radar, so air traffic control could not warn the Tornado crew that the 460mph jet was approaching it.
Paramotors flying from March have since been fitted with high-powered strobe lights, to make them easier for the pilots of other aircraft to see.
The Fenland Centre, March airfield, will now be invited to the next meeting of EAAUWG in order to promote a better understanding of operating practices and a potential means to deconflict movements, the report said.
UKPPG March Airfield is a full time professional powered paragliding training organisation, operating under a worldwide recognised training syllabus, the report said.
The centre and its instructors proactively engage other airspace users to enable everyone to operate safely within the area via NOTAMS and radio telephone communications, which include liaisons with the Parachute and Microlight Centre at Chatteris Airfield, Upwood and Crowland Gliding Clubs, Benwick Airfield and the local, military air-bases including RAF Marham, Lakenheath and Mildenhall.