JAKARTA • Two Indonesian jetliners "nearly collided" in the skies above Bali on Wednesday in bad weather, according to Detik news reports citing eyewitnesses, a claim denied by public officials.
Detik said in several reports on Thursday that at one point during the flight of the Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air planes, the vertical distance between them was about 400 feet, or 122m. This is less than the minimum gap of 1,000 feet, or 305m, between aircraft in flight under international rules, the news site said.
It cited data from aviation sites flightradar24.com and gerryairways.com that the two planes were in a "near-miss" position while circling.
Detik said: "In the flightradar24 flight data, the two airplanes were in the same directional position, but at different heights... Garuda was at 16,300 feet, while Lion Air was at 15,900 feet."
The Garuda jet returned to Surabaya airport after circling once. Lion Air circled three times before landing at Bali's Ngurah Rai International airport at about 3pm on Wednesday. "There was no damage sustained," Detik said.
But Indonesian aviation officials denied there was a near collision, and said that the aircraft were between 1,000 and 2,000 feet apart. The planes were in a holding pattern above Bali along with about 10 other aircraft as they were in a queue to land.
Indonesia's director-general for air transport Suprasetyo, when later contacted by Detik, said: "As a result of our checks on recordings in our radar, this news is untrue." He added that the vertical distance between the aircraft was 2,000 feet.
The director for operations for Indonesia's air navigation, Mr Wisnu Darjono, said: "Not a near collision, both were in a holding position to descend... Lion was at 16,000 feet and Garuda was at 17,000 feet."