LOS ANGELES The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday was investigating a jumbo jet’s turn in the wrong direction after it departed from Los Angeles International Airport.
The EVA Airways Boeing 777 bound for Taipei, Taiwan, flew north instead of south after departing from LAX early Friday morning, according to the FAA’s Ian Gregor.
“At the time, aircraft were departing from LAX to the east,” Gregor said, adding that the EVA flight departed from the airport’s south runway complex.
The 777’s flight crew switched from the LAX control tower to the approach control in San Diego right after takeoff, Gregor said.
“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 said.
“She meant to tell the pilot to make a right turn to a 180-degree heading. The pilot turned to the left. The controller quickly realized EVA was turning in the wrong direction. She took immediate action to keep EVA safely separated from an Air Canada jet that had departed LAX off the north runway complex.”
The jets “remained the required distance” from one another, he said.
“The controller then turned her attention to getting EVA to turn south,” Gregor said.
The plane turned low over an Altadena neighborhood, startling a homeowner who said it tossed her from her bed.
“The controller issued the EVA pilot a series of instructions to get him to turn south. The controller wanted to make sure the EVA aircraft was safely above or away from nearby terrain.”
The plane was heading dangerously close to the San Gabriel Mountains and was far below the summit of Mount Wilson at 5,700 feet. With moments to spare, pilot changed course and headed back toward the ocean.
Gregor said that FAA regulations require aircraft to be at least 3 miles away laterally or 2,000 feet vertically above obstacles, such as mountains.