Friday, December 4, 2009
FAA probes mid-air incident
FAA Reviews 'Operational Error' In Colo. Airspace
DENVER (AP) ― A commercial plane turning too late breached the amount of space it was supposed to keep between two other planes in an incident in late November, a federal aviation official said Wednesday.
The plane was following an air traffic controller's directions when it turned near Denver International Airport and lost the required distance between two planes simultaneously, said Mike Fergus, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.
Planes at high altitudes are supposed to keep 5 miles of horizontal distance and 1,000 feet of vertical space between them, he said. Fergus told The Associated Press that he did not know how close the planes were in the Nov. 23 incident.
Planes from SkyWest, Frontier and Republic airlines were involved, Fergus said, but he did not immediately know Wednesday which one made the wrong turn.
He said the controller had given correct directions to the pilot, but the pilot had flown past the point where the plane could have followed those directions and instead made a late turn.
"We are investigating to find out what caused the circumstances where the controller made the wrong decision" and how to prevent it from happening again, he said.
Fergus classified it as an "operational error" rather than a near-midair collision, saying none of the pilots or the air traffic controller reported it as such.
Alarms sounded in at least one of the cockpits telling the pilots to take evasive action and in the Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center, Fergus told a Denver TV station.
"It was a serious situation," he said.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 5:14 AM