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Fri, Dec 19, 2008

French Pilot Receives Fine, Suspension For September Incursion

Prime Minister's Plane Took Evasive Action

A French private pilot has been fined and had his license suspended as a result of a September incident, when his Cessna 172 flew too close to a Falcon 900 transporting Prime Minister Francois Fillon.

Agence-France Presse reports Xavier Thiry's plane strayed into the jet's path as it descended towards an air base near Paris. The incident occurred in restricted airspace, and forced Fillon's jet to take evasive action.

Police arrested Thiry the next day... and charged the engineer with deliberately ignoring safety procedures, and endangering someone's life. A court in Versailles convicted Thiry on Monday, revoking his pilot license for 18 months and levying a $2,100 fine.

Thiry told reporters he knows he made a mistake, and he doesn't feel the matter should have been handled by a criminal court. His lawyer may appeal the ruling.

"I feel this decision is unjust," Thiry said. "Flying is my passion, and this hasn't put me off it."

FMI: www.aviation-civile.gouv.fr/

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