Thursday, December 22, 2016

Air traffic controller removed from post after directing jetliner toward Mt. Wilson

An air traffic controller in San Diego who mistakenly routed a wide-body jet with 353 people aboard toward Mt. Wilson has been removed from her assignment amid an investigation into the incident.

The controller no longer is working air traffic after an EVA Air Boeing 777 that departed to the east from Los Angeles International Airport last Friday morning was ordered to turn left to the north, sending the aircraft over the San Gabriel Mountains at low altitude.

The standard procedure for eastern departures from LAX is to make a right turn to the south shortly after takeoff and then head out over the ocean.

The wrong turn occurred about 1:30 a.m., shortly after takeoff, when responsibilities for air traffic control shifted from the LAX tower to approach control in San Diego.

The Taiwan-bound jetliner appeared to clear the 5,713-foot peak of Mt. Wilson by no more than 800 feet, according to website data cited by The Times. However, broadcast towers rise an additional 400 feet from the summit, potentially reducing the clearance.

Federal Aviation Administration regulations require aircraft to be at least three miles away laterally or 2,000 feet vertically above obstacles such as mountains.

Ian Gregor, an FAA spokesman in Los Angeles, said the agency’s investigation of the incident will look into all aspects of the flight, including air traffic control, the actions of the pilots and just how close the Boeing 777 got to the rugged terrain of the San Gabriel Mountains before correcting its course.

Gregor described the incident as “highly unusual.” He declined to comment further, stating that a personnel matter was involved.

A spokesperson for the National Air Traffic Controllers Assn. also declined to comment citing the pending FAA investigation.


No comments: