Authorities are investigating after an air traffic controller error sent a jet from Los Angeles International Airport into the flight path of another plane while flying low toward Southern California mountains.
An Eva Air Boeing 777 that left LAX in heavy rain around 1:20am Friday heading to Taiwan was given an incorrect instruction by a controller based in San Diego. She said to turn left instead of right, KABC-TV reported.
That sent the airliner toward the mountains above Altadena. As well as toward the flight path of an Air Canada plane that had just taken off.
The air traffic controller quickly realized her mistake. But she had to repeat warnings before the plane stopped flying towards the San Gabriel Mountains and finally turned around.
"EVA 015 Heavy, what are you doing? Turn southbound now. Southbound now. Stop your climb." the frustrated controller says after the plane apparently does not heed her initial instruction. Several times the controller tells the pilot to head south. More than a minute later, she is still trying to get him to change direction. The EVA crew eventually pulled up and got onto the right flight path.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said on Tuesday. Gregor said the two planes remained the required distance from each other at all times during the Friday incident. Regulations require aircraft to be at least three miles away laterally or 2000 feet vertically above obstacles such as mountains. The controller "took immediate action to keep EVA safely separated from an Air Canada jet''. She made sure the EVA aircraft "was safely above or away from nearby terrain.''
Gregor said he couldn't comment on the details of the investigation. Or the parties involved.
The flight had 353 people on board including five infants, an airline spokeswoman said.