On July 14, Air Seychelles Flight HM54, a 277-seat Airbus A330-200, was departing from the island of Mauritius en route to Dubai. The flight was climbing from 33,000 feet in the air to 37,000 when its radar detected another plane: Fly Emirates Flight EK703, an enormous Airbus A380-800 that could carry as many as 615 passengers. That flight was making the same course as them in reverse: from Dubai to Mauritius.
The Emirates flight was in the midst of a descent from 40,000 feet. Air traffic control instructed them to descend to 38,000 feet, which the Emiratis incorrectly read back as 36,000 feet without being corrected.
But when the planes got closer, Air Seychelles pilot Captain Roberto Vallicelli and his first mate Ronny Morel realized that the two aircraft were on a collision course.
The two planes came close enough together to be visible to one another. Thinking fast, Vallicelli performed a sharp right turn in mid-air, avoiding disaster. He righted the plane's course and passed Flight EK703 from a distance of 8.7 miles away.
An Air Seychelles statement congratulated Vallicelli and Morel for their heroics: "We commend our Captain Roberto Vallicelli and Seychellois First Officer Ronny Morel who were operating the HM054 flight from Mauritius to Seychelles on the evening of Friday 14 July 2017."
"Their training standard and operating protocols immediately kicked in which demonstrates the extremely high standards of training which our Air Seychelles pilots attain. We highly commend them for what they have done."
Fly Emirates released their own statement about the near-miss. "Emirates has received reports of an event on July 14, 2017, in relation to aircraft separation involving flight EK703 in Mauritius airspace. The matter has been reported to the respective air transport authorities and Emirates will extend its full cooperation to any investigation. The safety of our passengers and crew is of utmost importance."
It is unknown how many people were onboard either plane.