Air Force One is seen on the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident in which a private plane flew too close to Air Force One as it approached its landing place in Florida. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo
Feb. 9 (UPI) -- The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating an incident last week when a private aircraft flew closer than allowed to Air Force One as it approached its landing in Florida with President Donald Trump aboard.
The incident happened at 4:30 p.m. Friday, about 30 miles outside West Palm Beach, where Trump spent the weekend at his Mar a Lago club. Bloomberg, citing three unnamed sources, said a private aircraft was flying on a parallel path 2 nautical miles away from Air Force One as it approached the Palm Beach International Airport.
ABC News reported the planes were close enough the pilots were able to see one another's aircraft.
Under normal aviation rules, planes must stay at least 3 nautical miles apart when approaching an airport and 5 nautical miles apart above a certain altitude. The mistake could have been either air controller error or pilot error, experts told Bloomberg.
Special security measures are typically taken for Air Force One, with air traffic controllers paying close attention to its flight path and the Secret Service monitoring the air space for miles around the plane. The president's plane, a Boeing 747, is typically afforded more space that others, though there is no specific rule or law regarding distance from Air Force One as opposed to any other plane in the sky.
Because the planes were on parallel paths there was never a possibility they would collide, officials said. Like all jets its size, Air Force One is equipped with midair monitors to track approaching aircraft to prevent a collision.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.