FAA: Spy Plane Crashed LA Air Traffic Control

Computers couldn't handle high-altitude flight plan
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2014 1:17 AM CDT
FAA: Spy Plane Crashed LA Air Traffic Control
A U-2 "Dragon Lady" spy plane on a training mission.   (US Air Force)

A Cold War-era U2 spy plane crashed an air traffic control system in Southern California last week, causing the delay or cancellation of hundreds of flights, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The agency says the system "experienced problems while processing a flight plan filed for a U-2 aircraft that operates at very high altitudes," resulting in the grounding of flights at airports in cities including Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas, NBC reports.

The spy plane was at 60,000 feet, but the FAA says air traffic control computers misinterpreted the flight path as one at a much lower altitude and become overwhelmed trying to prevent it colliding with commercial airliners, Reuters finds. The Pentagon has confirmed that the spy plane was over Southern California for a training mission, but an Army spokesman says all the routine paperwork had been filed and the military hasn't changed the way it conducts such operations. The FAA says the problem was fixed within an hour and it has taken steps to prevent similar incidents. (More air traffic control stories.)

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