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Sun, Sep 03, 2006

Helicopter, Plane Come Too Close For Comfort Over LAX

FAA: First Near-Miss In Area Since 2004

The pilot of an American Eagle flight on approach to land early Friday at Los Angeles International Airport had to execute a go-around, after a chartered news helicopter appeared near the Saab 340's flight path.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor told the Associated Press the plane came within 100 vertical feet, and approximately 2,500 horizontal feet of the helicopter after beginning its descent into LAX.

Gregor said the regional aircraft, inbound from Santa Barbara, had been cleared to land at the airport -- and was turning to final and descending out of 2,500 feet when the incident occurred.

A spokesman for the airline said the Saab's traffic alert system sounded as plane approached the helicopter, leading the pilot to abort landing.

The plane's next time around was uneventful, and successfully landed on the second attempt.

The FAA and American Eagle will conduct investigations into the incident, which the agency reports is the first near-collision in the skies over Los Angeles since January 12, 2004.

An FAA spokesman also made a point to UPI that staffing at the San Diego air route traffic control center -- which directs traffic over LA --  did not contribute to the incident.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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