FAA Has Yet Another Near Miss: Trainee To Blame

Yet another near miss from the FAA. The ABC News reports below.

"Two airplanes carrying more than 120 passengers narrowly averted a collision after an air traffic control trainee told a Delta Air Lines pilot to turn into the path of an oncoming plane, officials said.

One pilot flew up and the other went down, and the planes never came closer than about 400 feet in altitude and 3 miles in lateral, or horizontal, separation, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said Thursday.

Standard separation is 1,000 feet vertical and 5 miles lateral, Cory said.

A cockpit collision avoidance system alerted the pilots to the danger, in the skies east of Pittsburgh.

Delta Flight 1654 was en route from Cincinnati to LaGuardia Airport in New York Tuesday morning and was carrying 57 passengers. The other plane, PSA Flight 2273, was flying from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to Charlotte, N.C. It had 70 people on board.

The controller only had about a year on the job, said Melissa Ott, National Air Traffic Controllers spokeswoman at the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center in Oberlin.

"We watched the recording of the incident three times and each time I said, 'Oh my God,'" Ott said. "It was the closest call I have ever seen in my 18 years of air traffic control."

Cory called the encounter an operational error. She said a second controller was working with the trainee at the time.

"This ended with the aircraft taking the appropriate action," Cory said. "The controllers will be retrained."

A Delta spokeswoman said the passengers "were never in danger."

PSA is a subsidiary of Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways Group, Inc. Delta Air Lines Inc. is based in Atlanta."