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Rotterdam CTR (Source: AIP the Netherlands)
Rotterdam CTR (Source: AIP the Netherlands)

Airprox, Cessna 560XL Citation XLS, D-CRON, EC135 T2, PH-ELP, Rotterdam CTR

Status : Closed

The Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) helicopter EC135 T2, operated by ANWB Medical Air Assistance (MAA), departed from Rotterdam The Hague Airport (EHRD) for a flight under special visual flight rules (SVFR) to Muiden. A medical emergency operation is a VFR single pilot operation, whereby the tasks are shared between the pilot and the HEMS crew member (HCM).

Meanwhile a Cessna Citation 560XL business jet approached runway 24 on the Instrument Landing System (ILS) in instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) flying under instrument flight rules (IFR). In addition to the departing helicopter, the tower controller only had the Cessna on his frequency. The inbound Cessna was under control of Rotterdam Tower, however the Rotterdam Approach (RAP) radar controller, stationed at Schiphol, is responsible for
IFR traffic on the ILS. Both stations are part of Air Traffic Control the Netherlands (LVNL).

The tower controller informed the pilot of the helicopter that a business jet was flying inbound on the ILS of runway 24, at a distance of 6 miles, which the pilot confirmed by saying: “stay on this side of the runway”. The Cessna was then given landing clearance. Shortly afterwards, due to deteriorating weather conditions, the helicopter pilot decided to return to EHRD and informed the tower. The tower controller instructed the pilot to make a right turn, which was read back. The controller instructed further to fly to reporting point PAPA, while staying clear of the ILS, which was confirmed by the pilot.

At the moment the pilot of the EC135 indicated that he wants to return to the airport, he was given permission to do so by flying a right hand turn. The pilot confirmed “right turn out”. After the EC135 took its turn too far, this was observed and discussed by both air traffic controllers. Both controllers noticed (and mentioned) that the EC135 was getting too close to the flight path of the Cessna Citation but they did not take action. According to the published LVNL report about the occurrence, the heading of the helicopter was not clear due to shifting radar plots, and neither the tower controller nor the radar controller could accurately assess the situation.

The complete analysis on this incident can be found in the Quarterly Aviation Report over the 1st quarter of 2021.

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