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Brussels air catastrophe narrowly avoided

06 May 2014, 06:44

Brussels - Angry Brussels residents Monday said a Turkish cargo plane following a controversial new flight path over the city almost caused an "aviation catastrophe," but the airport's traffic control denied the charge.

Thousands of residents have signed petitions against a new flight path that entered into force in February and one group of anti-noise pollution campaigners, the UBCNA, said a Turkish Boeing 747-400 flew so low that it "almost caused an aviation catastrophe due to a poor take-off".

The My Cargo Magna plane took off just before midnight, strayed off the flight path "without managing to pick up altitude in an indescribable noise", and then flew over city suburbs "at an altitude of around 200m," UBCNA said.

But Belgocontrol, the country's air traffic control, said "the flight posed no safety problem as regards air traffic management" and "was in conformity with" the airport's Sunday to Monday evening flight take-off plans.

The head of UBCNA, who is also mayor of one of the suburbs involved, has filed a complaint against the company and against Belgocontrol for "failing to respect aviation procedures and endangering lives".

The minister in charge of air transport, Melchior Wathelet, has asked for an inquiry into why a notoriously noisy plane was authorised to take off between 23:00 and 06:00 when such flights are limited.

With Brussels airport located only two kilometres east of the city, controversy over the new flight path plan launched by minister Wathelet is turning into a hot political issue just three weeks ahead of the country's 25 May general elections.

Under the new plan some 35 000 planes a year are destined to fly over Brussels, which is home to EU and Nato headquarters.



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