An urgent investigation has been launched after a Boeing 747 jumbo jet accidentally flew within 50m of Southend Pier last night – eyewitnesses reported seeing and hearing the ‘terrifying’ incident at around 11.45pm on Saturday evening.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority, no details will be officially released until an investigation into the actions of the aircraft has been completed, but initial data has shown that the so-called ‘near miss’ took place while the pilot’s navigation instruments were temporarily offline.

A source within the CAA spoke to our Chief Reporter this afternoon, and he said: ‘We have been telling Southend Council to keep the pier lights turned off at night for a while now – in certain weather conditions it looks like a runway, and a major disaster has been avoided here by the quick thinking of the pilot.’

‘We have spoken to him as part of the early stages of our enquiry, and he was ‘tricked’ into thinking that he was on the final approach from Kent towards Stansted.’

‘Apparently he only realised his error when he saw the front of Sunspot Amusements all lit up, and he then pulled up and stopped the plane from smashing into Southend Seafront at 255 miles per hour.’

‘It’s all very well having the longest pier in the world, but with great long pier comes great big responsibility.’

A spokesperson for Southend Council said: ‘We can confirm that this incident occurred last night, and a number of residents called us to report the sighting of a large aircraft close to Southend Pier.’

‘We will be cooperating with the CAA as far as possible during their investigation, but we will not be turning the pier lights off at night in the foreseeable future.’

‘We can’t afford any more shipstrikes on the aging structure, but we will be sending a memo to all of the major airlines to let them know that we have the longest and most entertaining pier in the world.’

‘However, this incident has reminded us that it is no longer safe to have any aircraft flying close to Southend Seafront, and this is why the annual Airshow became so expensive for safety reasons.’