RAWALPINDI: Two Pakistan International Airlines planes averted a midair collision on Sunday over Iranian territory near the United Arab Emirates (UAE) airspace, as both planes were on the same route and altitude.

Due to alleged negligence of the Iranian Air Traffic Control (ATC), which is said to have cleared the same altitude, the two planes came dangerously close to each other. According to sources, a PIA Boeing 777 was en route from Islamabad to Dubai while the other airliner was Airbus A320 from Doha to Peshawar.

Captain Samiullah was flying Airbus A-320 while captain Athar Haroon was flying Boeing 777.

However, when the two planes came closer, one was asked to ascend and the other descended as per standard practice.

There is a system on all planes, called Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). It automatically guides the plane by communicating with the TCAS of other aircraft.

A PIA spokesman said: “PIA is writing to Iranian air traffic control (ATC) to investigate as the Iranian ATC instructed the plane, but it was wrong.”

He said a PIA flight (PK-211), a Boeing 777 from Islamabad to Dubai, was maintaining 35,000-foot altitude when it came close to Peshawar-bound PIA flight (PK-268) of Airbus A320 from Doha. He said PK-268 flight was flying at an altitude of 36,000 feet and was cleared to descend to 20,000 feet.

The descent would have come in the flight path of PIA flight of Boeing 777 PK-211, the spokesman added.

However, he added, the aircraft’s TCAS corrected the course for both the planes and automatically guided them.

Published in Dawn, July 26th, 2022

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