Airbus Narrowly Avoids Collision with UFO
Date: December 2, 2011
Location: Baillieston, Scotland Airport
A passenger jet came within 300' of colliding with an unidentified flying object, an official probe has heard. Despite an investigation, the UK Airprox Board, which examines reports of near misses, could not explain the blue and yellow object which passed under the Airbus 320. The incident over Baillieston, 13 miles east of Glasgow Airport, at around 3500'.
The shocked pilot reported the collision risk as high.
The A320 was descending into Glasgow in clear conditions with the sun behind, when both the plane’s pilots saw an object around 300' away.
The board’s report said:
The object passed directly beneath before either of the crew had time to take avoiding action or had “really registered it”, although they both agreed that it appeared blue and yellow (or silver) in color and was quite large with a small frontal area.
The controller stated he was not talking to anyone else in that area and nothing was seen on radar.
In its report, the board dismissed a variety of possible explanations.
In the absence of a primary radar return, it was unlikely that the untraced aircraft was a fixed-wing or rotary wing aircraft or man carrying balloon.
It was considered that a meteorological balloon would be radar significant and unlikely to be released in the area.
Transcript Between Control Tower & Pilot:
A320: Glasgow Approach [A320 C/S]
Air Traffic Control: [A320 C/S] pass your message
A320: Er yeah we just had something pass underneath us quite close and nothing on TCAS have you got anything on in our area
Air Traffic Control: Er negative er we’ve got nothing on er radar and we’re n-not talking to any traffic either
A320: Er not quite sure what it was but it definitely er quite large and it’s blue and yellow
Air Traffic Control: OK that’s understood er do you have a an estimate for the height
A320: Maybe er yeah we were probably about erm four hundred to five hundred feet above it so it’s probably about three and a half thousand feet. We seemed to only miss it by a couple of hundred feet it went directly beneath us, wherever we were when we called it in it was within about ten seconds, couldn’t tell what direction it was going but it went right underneath us.
Air Traffic Control: Do you suspect it might have been a glider or something like that?
A320: Well maybe a microlight, it just looked too big for a balloon.
A glider could not be discounted, but it was felt unlikely that one would be operating in that area, due to the constrained airspace and the lack of thermal activity due to low temperature. Similarly, the board considered that a hangglider or para-motor would be radar significant and that conditions precluded them. Members were unable to reach a conclusion as to a likely candidate for the conflicting aircraft.
The pilot was clearly shocked and reported that there had been a high risk of collision following the incident on December 2. He told his control tower:
We just had something pass underneath us quite close. Have you got anything on in our area.
They replied: Negative. We’ve got nothing on radar and we’re not talking to any traffic either
The unidentified flying object passed directly beneath the plane before either of the crew had a chance to take action to avoid it. Both pilots described the object as blue and yellow, or silver, in color with a small frontal area but that it was bigger than a balloon
The airline involved has not been identified by the report authors. Several companies fly in Airbus 320 planes from the airport and they can seat up to 220 people, although the number of seats varies.
The report authors said they had not been able to work out what the object was.
The controller stated that he was not talking to anyone else in that area and that nothing was seen on radar. Search action was taken with no result and the A320 pilot stated his intention to file an Airprox. Additionally, a further detailed review of individual radar sources did not yield any conclusive radar data that matched the A320 pilot's description of the encounter. The Air Traffic Control units own radar replay also showed no surveillance traces in the immediate vicinity of the A320 at the time. Once on the ground the A320 pilot gave a further description of the event to the Glasgow Aerodrome Controller.
The pilot said:
We seemed to only miss it by a couple of hundred feet it went directly beneath us, wherever we were when we called it in it was within about ten seconds; couldn't tell what direction it was going but it went right underneath us.
Asked if he thought it was a glider, the pilot replied:
Well maybe a microlight, it just looked too big for a balloon.
But the board ruled out any such aircraft and were baffled.
The board initially considered likely candidates for the untraced aircraft. The A320 crew had not been able to assimilate any information regarding the form of the untraced aircraft in the fleeting glimpse they had, reporting only a likely color, it said.
Members were of the opinion that, in the absence of a primary radar return, it was unlikely that the untraced aircraft was a fixed wing or rotary wing aircraft or man carrying balloon.
It was considered that a meteorological balloon would be radar significant and unlikely to be released in the area of the Airprox.
A glider could not be discounted but it was felt unlikely that one would be operating in that area, both due to the constrained airspace and the lack of thermal activity due to the low temperature.
Similarly, The board considered that a hangglider or paramotor would be radar significant and that conditions precluded them, as they did paragliders or parascenders.
Members were unable to reach a conclusion as to a likely candidate for the conflicting aircraft and it was therefore felt that the Board had insufficient information to determine a cause or risk.