Srilankan Airlines applauded its pilots on Wednesday for safely commandeering a flight from London to Colombo on Monday, following claims that a national carrier plane narrowly avoided colliding with a British Airways flight over Turkey.
"Vigilance of the pilots and the state-of-the-art communication and surveillance system onboard the aircraft enabled safe passage for UL 504 on June 13. Further, SriLankan Airlines commends the timely action of the pilots operating UL 504, which ensured the safety of all passengers, crew and equipment onboard UL 504," the carrier stated in a statement.
After media sources indicated that UL 504, travelling from London to Colombo, escaped the worst-case scenario of a mid-air collision while in Turkish airspace, the explanation was released.
According to accounts, the 275-passenger aeroplane had crossed Turkish airspace after departing Heathrow on its way to Colombo.
The Srilankan flight was directed to rise to 35,000 feet from their current altitude of 33,000 feet.
The Srilankan jet had identified a British Airways flight with more than 250 people on board flying at 35,000 feet barely 15 miles distant and had contacted air traffic control in Ankara.
Despite being approved twice incorrectly by Ankara air traffic control, Sri Lankan pilots refused to rise.
Minutes later, air traffic control advised the Srilankan jet not to rise because a British Airways flight to Dubai was already flying overhead at 35,000 feet.
According to the Daily Mirror newspaper, if the UL pilot had risen to the desired height, the UL flight would have collided with the British Airways aircraft, which was flying at a quicker speed than the UL flight.
The passengers and crew safely departed from the aeroplane after landing at Bandaranaike International Airport and a report on the event was submitted, according to the statement.