Planes prevented from colliding over Israel airport

Last Updated: Thu, Nov 18, 2010 18:40 hrs

Tel Aviv, Nov 18 (DPA) An alert air traffic controller at Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport prevented what could have been a major air disaster Thursday, when he spotted a flight which had just taken off straying into the path of an airplane preparing to land.

According to reports in the Israeli media, the Air Berlin plane, bound for Germany, had received instructions to take off from east to west, and climb to 8,000 feet. The aircraft however strayed south as it took off, coming close to an El Al Israel Airlines flight from Athens which was at 4,000 feet and coming in to land.

The two planes were only 800 feet apart, below the minimum of 1,000 feet allowed between aircraft.

An air traffic controller who noticed the Air Berlin plane had deviated from its path managed to contact the pilot to get him to change course.

Israeli aviation authorities have opened an investigation.

The Air Berlin plane was heading to Cologne, Germany.