Air Traffic Controller Suspended After Asking Southwest Jet Pilots to Take a Close Look at a Small Private Plane

Thu March 31 2011 6:03 am  http://www.floridacardinal.com/?p=607
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A small private Cirrus SR22 plane heading to a nearby general aviation airport in Kissimmee, Fla., had been out of radio contact for over an hour in the skies near Orlando, Florida Sunday.

Pilots of a Southwest Boeing 737 were asked by a Florida air traffic controller supervisor to change course and take a closer look at the Cirrus plane.

The incident is especially inappropriate because the behavior of the pilot of the Cirrus private plane was unpredictable — putting passengers and crew on the Southwest jet in jeopardy. The Southwest jet had 137 passengers onboard.

The Cirrus was flying at 11,000 feet heading to a general aviation airport in Kissimmee, Florida. The Southwest Boeing 737 flew at 12,000 feet about 10 miles behind the Cirrus, while heading to Orlando International Airport.

The Florida air traffic controller supervisor was suspended after officials said he compromised the safety of passengers by letting two planes fly too close to each other.