Kenya’s aviation industry regulator on Monday disputed reports that two passenger planes almost collided mid-air in the country's airspace last week.
Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCCA) director-general Gilbert Kibe disputed the collision claims, terming them as misleading and not corroborated by Air Traffic Control (ATC) records.
Media reports indicated that an Ethiopian Airlines plane and an Italian leisure airline flight nearly collided over Naivasha town shortly after midnight on Wednesday August 29.
The aircraft were on the same altitude, but the Ethiopian Airline pilot, after being notified of the same, adjusted the altitude to 38,000 feet.
The two planes, according to video footage extracted from the radar capturing the dramatic incident, then maintained the altitude for five minutes, avoiding a collision.
The Ethiopian Airlines flight had, according to the report, was heading to Addis Ababa from Johannesburg while the Italian plane was flying to Zanzibar from Verona in Italy.
“The said aircraft were in communication with Nairobi on August 29, 2018 and they were maintaining correct flight levels. The Controller issued instructions to separate the aircraft before the minimum allowable distance of 10NM (nautical miles) was bridged,” Mr Kibe said.
He said none of the pilots has filed an incident report “as would be the case if indeed the pilot took the initiative on his own without getting instructions from the air traffic controller.
Mr Kibe maintained that the two aircraft are fitted with collision avoidance systems that would prevent such an eventuality.
The air traffic controllers, whose work includes preventing air collisions did their work as expected, he adds.
He took issue with flight tracking website, ‘Flight Radar 24’ saying it was not a recommended system for provision of surveillance services.
He also refuted claims that the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority was furious with Kenya Air Traffic controllers, saying the two authorities have mutually-agreed air traffic control arrangements.
“The agreement includes mechanism to manage non-adherence to agreed operational procedures and to date, none of the parties has initiated any communication indicating non-compliance,” he said.