TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – An error by an air traffic controller in California sent an EVA Airways jet which had just taken off from Los Angeles International Airport into the flight path of another plane and low above a mountain range, reports said Tuesday.
The incident happened during a serious rain storm just after 1:20 a.m. last Friday local time, according to news site ABC7.
An air traffic controller based in San Diego told the Taoyuan-bound Boeing 777 to turn left instead of right, the report said. As a result, the aircraft moved toward the flight path of an Air Canada plane that had also just taken off. It also approached Mount Wilson, a 5,700-foot peak above the town of Altadena in the San Gabriel Valley, the report said.
The traffic controller realized her mistake and called on the EVA flight to stop its climb and head south, but it took more than a minute before the pilot responded and put the plane back on the correct course.
“EVA 015 Heavy, what are you doing? Turn southbound now, southbound now. Stop your climb,” the traffic controller was quoted as saying by ABC7.
The report also quotes residents of Altadena as saying they were surprised by the sound of an aircraft flying so close to the ground, since nearby Mount Wilson prevents jets from passing low over the area.
The Federal Aviation Administration had launched an investigation into the incident, ABC7 reported, adding that the EVA jet was never less than the required minimum three miles away from the Air Canada flight, though it has to be seen whether it was still the minimum 2,000 feet above the mountains.