THE last flying Vulcan bomber came close to a mid-air crash over Doncaster after a radar operator was distracted by a phonecall, it has been revealed.
Aviation bosses were called in to investigate after concerns were raised that the Vulcan nearly collided with another aircraft over the borough.
The incident, just under four miles from Robin Hood Airport, was reported as a ‘near miss’. Experts from the Civil Aviation Authority were called in.
In its official report, released this week, it is revealed a radar operator had been distracted by the telephone call when the near miss happened.
The incident was on the first day the Vulcan arrived from its previous base at RAF Lyneham and involved a De Havill and Canada DHC-8 aeroplane on a scheduled flight from Robin Hood Airport to Jersey.
When staff became aware there was a potential risk, the airliner had already set off down the runway to take off. Controllers radioed to the Vulcan to ask it to stop coming down at 3,000ft - but it kept coming until it was at 2,300ft.
They then told the airliner to turn, and the two aircraft passed one another with the Vulcan just 200ft above the airliner and two miles away - close in aircraft terms.
Details of the incident have been published in an official report from the UK Airprox Board, which is responsible for investigating near misses.
The controller told investigators a phonecall to the airport authority had been distracting and caused a delay in doing something to stop the risk of a collision sooner.
The report says: “The controller indicated the Vulcan was a heavy, fast aircraft and considering the type of approach and high-profile nature of the arrival, a restriction on all departures would have been appropriate.”
He also told the investigators the Vulcan pilot’s lack of response to various transmissions was frustrating and not helpful in the circumstances.
The report said it later became apparent the Vulcan crew had reported a control problem, adding it was not clear if this may have been a factor.
The airliner’s pilot was praised in the report for intuitively recognising there was a problem.