Pair of jets flying in formation? [Two commercial flights]

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
A short while ago my eye was drawn to two jets flying past at high altitude, seemingly in formation.

jets.jpg

They were flying a parallel course, seemingly at the same speed. Neither one was leaving a persistent contrail, but the front, lower plane was leaving a slightly more prominent one (shortly afetr I took this photo, the higher plane was leaving no trail at all).

My immediate assumption was that they must be a pair of military jets, but I looked on FlightRadar24 to see if they might show up anyway. To my surprise, these two planes turned out to be perfectly ordinary commercial flights from Germany to the US, following virtually the same flight path but separated vertically by about 2,000ft:

photo 2.PNG photo 3.PNG

Measuring the distance between the planes based on those screenshots suggests there were only a little over a mile apart horizontally:

upload_2014-10-20_14-24-8.png

Is that a normal separation for planes flying in the same direction along the same route?
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
Is that a normal separation for planes flying in the same direction along the same route?

It probably is OK, as the two planes are 2000 ft apart by altitude. I've seen such a situation many times before. If you had spotted them a bit earlier, you would have seen the lower plane overtaking the higher plane.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
It probably is OK, as the two planes are 2000 ft apart by altitude. I've seen such a situation many times before. If you had spotted them a bit earlier, you would have seen the lower plane overtaking the higher plane.

Yes, even 1,000 feet is theoretically okay, but generally reserved for planes flying in opposite directions. RVSM packs a lot more planes into the 29,000 and up range:


There's quite a few videos on Youtube of planes overtaking with around 2,000 ft seperation


And a few 1,000 foot head-on passing on the same route:
 
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