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New air traffic control rules after Michelle Obama's plane aborts landing

Flight carrying US first lady was forced to abort a landing after air traffic controllers mistakenly allowed the place come too close to a military plane.

US first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the wife of US vice president Joe Biden, pose with Sesame Street characters on 18 April, 2011.
US first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the wife of US vice president Joe Biden, pose with Sesame Street characters on 18 April, 2011.
Image: AP Photo/Sesame Workshop, Richard Termine

THE US FEDERAL AVIATION AUTHORITY has announced new procedures for flights carrying the US first lady or vice president, following the latest in a series of embarrassing – and potentially dangerous – air traffic control errors.

A plane carrying Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, the vice president’s wife, was forced to abort its landing on Monday after it was allowed come too close to a military cargo plane which was landing ahead of it.

An FAA official told the LA Times that no one had been disciplined over the incident  and an investigation into the incident is underway. The FAA said that the aircraft involved “were never in any danger”.

On Monday, the FAA said that an air traffic controller based in Ohio had been suspended after he was caught watching a portable DVD player while at work one night. He accidentally broadcast part of the Samuel L Jackson film over his microphone and blocked all incoming calls from planes for about three minutes.

Nine controllers and managers have been suspended since late last month and five of those cases involved controllers falling asleep on the job.

Today, the air traffic authority said that flights carrying Michelle Obama or Joe Biden will now be handled by an air traffic supervisor, rather than controller. Flights carrying the US president already require a supervisor’s involvement.

Additional reporting by the AP

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