CLOSE CALL: Flight radar image of a close call between two planes.
CLOSE CALL: Flight radar image of a close call between two planes. Contributed

Teenager on Proserpine flight shares story of a close call

A PASSENGER who saw an aircraft, involved in a near miss with his plane to Proserpine, out the window last Thursday has spoken out.

Collinsville teenager Jessi Horvat, 15, was in a window seat on the right-hand side of a Virgin Boeing 737 when it lost required separation with a Qantas Boeing 737 over the Ipswich suburb of Amberley, 66km from Brisbane Airport.

He said he looked out of the window just in time for a break in the clouds only to see another plane - the Qantas 737 - pass by, a bit too close for comfort.

"It must have just been perfect timing or something," Jessi told the Whitsunday Times.

"I've just looked at the right time and saw it and said 'mum, that's a plane!'.

"I think it was about 50-100m away.

"It was quite cloudy, darker clouds.

"It wasn't raining at the time.

"I wasn't shocked or scared or anything, I was kind of confused."

The incident happened over Amberley as the Qantas plane was flying into Brisbane from Melbourne and the Virgin plane departed Brisbane for Proserpine.

The aircraft were flying at an altitude of 16,900 feet and 16,500 feet, meaning at their closest point, they were 122m apart.

The Virgin flight, scheduled to depart Brisbane Airport at 1.28pm, had taken off around 1.43pm due to bad weather.

The Qantas flight had been scheduled to land in Brisbane at 2.20pm.

Jessi's mum Lorraine Horvat, who was also on the flight, said she hadn't thought much of it at the time, but when she saw the story online, she immediately called Jessi.

"I didn't see it, so I didn't realise it was that close," Mrs Horvat said.

"But when I saw the story I remembered Jessi said something about a plane.

"No-one (on the flight) mentioned anything that we could hear. He (Jessi) has said since then 'I'm never flying again'!"

Mrs Horvat commended the captain and crew who gave them regular updates during the turbulent flight.

"We were looked after and the pilot kept giving us updates," she said.

"We weren't led to believe there was a near miss in the air."

Laura Goodridge, also a passenger on the Virgin flight to Proserpine, said she didn't know anything had happened.

"I didn't hear any of the flight crew talking about it or the passengers. It wasn't mentioned at all," she said.

"The captain came on and said, look there's going to be a few bumps because of the storm.

"But the whole flight we had seatbelt signs on. We had 10 minutes of no seatbelt over Mackay where the sky cleared, but then we had to strap back in for landing."

A Virgin Australia spokesperson told the Whitsunday Times the ATSB had launched an investigation into the incident.

"Virgin Australia takes the safety of our aircraft, passengers and crew very seriously. The matter is currently being investigated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and Virgin Australia will co-operate with this investigation," the spokesperson said.

An ATSB statement said a loss of required separation was reported between the two planes.

"The controller issued a weather diversion and approach clearance to the inbound Boeing 737, which resulted in a loss of separation with the departing Boeing 737," the statement said.

The ATSB statement said a report would be published at the end of the investigation.

"However, should a critical safety issue be identified during the course of the investigation, the ATSB will immediately notify relevant parties," it said.

It is understood the Qantas pilots received a minor warning indicating loss of separation.

A Qantas spokesperson told the Whitsunday Times the Qantas crew "followed air traffic control directions at all times".


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