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Fri, Jul 05, 2013

Spirit Airlines A319, Skydiving Aircraft Involved In Near Collision

Incident Is Under Investigation By The FAA

A Spirit Airlines A319 and a skydiving plane came within 1.6 miles of horizontal separation and 400 feet of vertical separation late Monday, forcing the airliner into an emergency descent to avoid a collision.

The FAA is investigating the incident. The Associated Press reports that, according to the FAA, the Airbus departed from Detroit Metropolitan Airport at 2022 CDT en route to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport with 126 passengers and five crew on board.

ATC notified the captain of the Airbus about the aircraft carrying a group of skydivers climbing just south of the airliner's position, according to an e-mail from FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory. The Spirit pilot confirmed the traffic on his TCAS, which a minute later issued a collision warning. The pilot initiated a rapid descent from 14,400 to 12,800 to avoid the smaller aircraft.

Spirit said that no passengers were injured, though the steep dive caused many to think that the plane was going down. Flight attendants reportedly bumped their heads on the cabin celling, drinks spilled, and luggage came out of the overhead storage bins. Two of the FAs reported neck pains, and they were replaced on the flight by flight attendants who were deadheading to DFW.

Spirit spokeswoman Misty Pinson said the Airbus captain "followed appropriate procedures" for the situation, and the flight continued to DFW without further incident.

The FAA said that the skydiving plane was operating VFR, giving that pilot the responsibility to "see and avoid" traffic in the area.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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