False alarm on jet causes 2 near-crashes
January 14, 1998
Web posted at: 8:22 p.m. EST (0122 GMT)
BURBANK, California (CNN) -- A Southwest Airlines jet came dangerously close to colliding with two commuter planes over the Los Angeles area, air traffic controllers told CNN Wednesday. Federal regulators are investigating the incident.
The incident occurred Friday when the traffic collision avoidance system on the Southwest jet sounded a false alarm, forcing the jet to climb rapidly. While climbing, the jet came within as little as 100 feet of one commuter plane.
Caught in the big jet's wake, the commuter plane fell about 1,000 feet over the densely populated San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.
Then another alert sounded on the Southwest jet, instructing the pilot to continue to climb and bringing him too close to another commuter plane.
An air traffic controller who witnessed the event said it was the worst incident he had seen on the job in 16 years. He said the plane's radar blips merged and that the planes were virtually on top of one another.
The collision avoidance system is mandatory on all commercial jets. The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed the incident Wednesday and said it is under investigation.