Cautionary Tales – The Vigilante and the Air Traffic Controller

31st March, 2023

Air traffic controllers are meant to stop aircraft flying into one another… and if they fail, computer systems are installed to warn pilots of a coming collision. But sometimes these humans and computers give conflicting and confusing advice. Who to believe?

When a cargo plane and a Russian airliner collided in just such a situation, the authorities scrambled to work out how to prevent a repeat of the disaster… but a grieving father decided to seek revenge on those he held responsible.

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Further reading

Accident investigation report outline concerning Boeing  747-400D JA8904 is the English translation of the official report into the Japanese near-miss incident, which was also reported at the time by the BBC

The trainee air traffic controller Hideki Hachitani and his supervisor, Yasuko Momii, published an open letter in the June 2006 edition of The Controller, the Journal of Air Traffic Control. The conclusion of their legal case was reported in 2010 by outlets including Flight Global.

German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation Report AX-001-1-2/02 is the English translation of the official report into the crash over Uberlingen. Another valuable source was Identifying the Factors that Contributed to the Ueberlingen Midair Collision, a paper published in the Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting 2004.

Alastair Gee travelled to North Ossetia to report for The Times on the aftermath of Vitaly Kaloyev’s murder of Peter Nielsen. The Irish Times also covered the case in depth.   

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