Planes Sent Toward Storms to Test Air Traffic Controller

FAA investigates Fla. incident in which 4 jets sent miles off course
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 15, 2008 3:16 PM CDT
A jet takes off past an airport control tower in this file photo.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident in which four Orlando-bound passenger jets were rerouted on Saturday in an effort to train a new air traffic controller. The Daily Mail reports the jets were directed into an area where thunderstorms were raging and that one, a Virgin Atlantic plane, was forced 70 miles off course. The FAA denies storms were in the area.

The FAA also says that planes were rerouted only by 33-50 miles. Details aside, the agency says it has strict training guidelines for controllers, which don’t allow for the rerouting of planes. “In my 20 years as an air traffic controller, we had never done anything like what they just did,” one union rep told the AP.