LOS ANGELES – Federal officials 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 1:20 a.m. Friday heading to Taiwan was given an incorrect instruction by a controller based in San Diego to turn left instead of right, KABC-TV reported.
That sent the airliner toward mountains above Altadena, as well as toward the path of an Air Canada plane that had just taken off.
Audio traffic indicates that the same controller realized the error and told the airliner to level out and change direction.
The controller told the pilot several times to head south. More than a minute later, she was still trying to get him to comply, according to KABC.
“EVA 015 Heavy, what are you doing? Turn southbound now, southbound now. Stop your climb,” the controller said after the plane apparently does not heed her initial instruction.
The EVA crew eventually pulled up and got onto the right flight path.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating, FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said 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 3 miles away laterally or 2,000 feet vertically above obstacles such as mountains.
The controller “took immediate action to keep EVA safely separated from an Air Canada jet” and 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.