A pilot has been credited for saving nearly 900 passengers when his last-minute manouevre prevented a mid-air collision.
Air Seychelles captain Roberto Vallicelli had just taken off from Mauritius airport when he realised the Airbus A330 he was flying was headed straight into the path of an Emirate Airbus A380 – the world’s largest passenger jet, the Daily Mail reported.
Vallicelli made a sharp right turn, narrowly avoiding a collision which would likely have killed as many as 892 passengers.
Emirates flight EK-703, which had begun its descent into Mauritius, had reported an incorrect altitude to air traffic control, according to the Aviation Herald. Air traffic control did not acknowledge the mistake when they passed the erroneous reading on.
Once it became clear that the Emirates plane was too high, a Traffic Collision Avoidance System alert reportedly came into play.
By this stage, both crews could see each other and Vallicelli, who was piloting flight HM-54 to Mahe Island in the Seychelles, made his sharp right turn.
The planes reportedly passed each other at an altitude of 36,000 feet (10.97 kilometres) but about 8.6 miles (13.8km) apart.
The Emirates jet, which can carry up to 615 passengers, was en route from Dubai to Mauritius last Friday and had received clearance from air traffic control to make its descent.
A spokesperson for Air Seychelles said of the crew onboard: “Their training standard and operating protocols immediately kicked in, which demonstrates the extremely high standards of training […]. We highly commend them for what they have done.”
An Emirates spokesperson said the airline had “received reports of an event on July 14, 2017 in relation to aircraft separation involving flight EK703 in Mauritius airspace”.
The matter has been reported to the relevant air transport authorities, the spokesperson said, adding that the airline will “extend its full cooperation to any investigation”.