The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is investigating the near-miss of two commercial passenger planes over Darwin last week, reportedly coming within just 250 metres of each other.
According to a report from The Sydney Morning Herald, a Boeing 737 almost collided with a twin-engine Boeing 717 when an RAAF air traffic controller inadvertently directed the arriving and departing planes on to a path that would have taken them through the same height.
A defence spokeswoman said the aircraft safety systems identified the potential conflict and the air traffic controller at once issued new instructions to separate the two aircrafts.
“In accordance with standard procedures, the air traffic controller concerned has been temporarily suspended from duty pending the results of (a more detailed) investigation,’ said the spokeswoman.
There were 155 passengers on board the Boeing 737 while the Boeing 717 was carrying 115 passengers.
ABC News reported that one plane allegedly passed directly below the other.
Australian and International Pilots Association president Barry Jackson said the pilots acted quickly to avoid a collision.
“Air traffic (controllers), as pilots, are under pressure and there are incidents like this that happen,” said Mr Jackson.
“The investigation process is designed such that we find out if there are any failings.”