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FAA flies FLOTUS close to cargo plane
Sat, 23 Apr 2011 11:56:25 GMT
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In another embarrassment for US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), air traffic controllers have mistakenly directed a plane carrying US first lady Mitchell Obama too close to an air force cargo plane.

The air traffic controllers at the Maryland base told the pilot of the US government Boeing 737 on Monday that he was further away from a nearby military cargo jet than he actually was, Reuters reported.

Air traffic controllers told the pilot that he was 4 miles (6.4 km) from a giant Air Force C-17 cargo when he was in fact 3 miles (4.8 km) away, the NTSB report found.

The first lady's plane also was carrying Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, on a trip from New York.

The plane was forced to abandon a landing approach outside Washington to avoid the C-17, one of the largest planes in the skies.

The C-17 was also heading to Andrews. Both planes, however, landed safely without incident.

The FAA which oversees the nation's 15,000 controllers handling of flights in and out of more than 400 airports, had no comment on the report.

The incident follows similar incidents in recent weeks in which air controllers had fallen asleep on duty.

An air traffic controller had fallen asleep during the night shift at Reno-Tahoe International Airport as a medical flight carrying a sick patient tried to land.

The plane, however, landed safely with the help of a radar controller based in California, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The incidents have forced federal officials to increase staffing at 27 airports on late shifts to reduce fatigue.

SB/MGH/MMN
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