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Nine military chiefs in April near-disaster over B.C.

Canada came close to losing its senior military leaders in thenear-collision of a government Challenger jet and a commercial jetlinerover British Columbia.

Canada came close to losing its senior military leaders in the near-collision of a government Challenger jet and a commercial jetliner over British Columbia.

The April incident is now prompting questions about why the military allowed its top brass — including the heads of the navy, army and air force — to travel together in the first place, a practice most large corporations forbid. The Canadian Forces has no policy on whether commanders should travel apart.

It was revealed last month that the government VIP jet en route to Ottawa from Vancouver was forced to descend, and passed within 700 feet vertically, out of the path of an Emirates’ Boeing 777 headed in the opposite direction near Penticton.

And now, a passenger manifest shows that the Challenger was flying with nine of the most senior military commanders, including Vice-Admiral Dean McFadden, who was head of Canada Command and now heads the navy; Vice-Admiral Denis Rouleau, the vice-chief of defence staff, the second in command; Lt.-Gen. Angus Watt, head of the air force; Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie, head of the army.