The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating after an aircraft departing Los Angeles International Airport was given the wrong information by air traffic control and directed toward the path of another plane, the Los Angeles Times reports.
According to FAA spokesman Ian Gregor, an EVA Air Boeing 777 bound for Taiwan took off early Friday from the airport’s south runway complex, and after takeoff switched from the LAX control tower to the approach-control operations in San Diego.
“The air traffic controller at the approach control who was handling EVA instructed the pilot to make a left turn to a 180-degree heading,” Gregor told the Times. “She meant to tell the pilot to make a right turn to a 180-degree heading.” The pilot followed the controller’s directions and turned left, a move that sent the plane in the wrong direction, Gregor said.
Gregor said that instead of flying south as intended, the aircraft flew north toward an Air Canada jet that had departed from the airport’s north runway complex.
When the controller realized her mistake, she “took immediate action to keep EVA safely separated” from the second aircraft, and issued the EVA pilot a series of instructions to help him turn south, Gregor said.
Gregor said that throughout the incident, the planes remained separated by the required distance and never got too close. According to the Times, regulations require that airplanes be separated by at least 3 miles laterally, or 2,000 feet vertically.
Gregor said that the FAA is also looking into how high the aircraft was flying above the ground northeast of the airport.
According to the Times, at least one resident in Altadena, just north of Los Angeles, reported hearing the low-flying plane.
Read more at the Los Angeles Times.