TAMPA, Fla. – Six people were injured when a British Airways passenger jet was ordered to descend after a small plane nearby triggered its collision warning system, officials said Saturday.
Four crew members and two passengers suffered cuts and bruises on the Oct. 10 flight from Tampa to London, British Airways spokesman Richard Goodfellow said Saturday.
Goodfellow said the aircraft, which had 175 passengers onboard, was put into a quick descent, dropping around 500 feet within seconds after the collision avoidance system went off.
However, the Federal Aviation Administration said Saturday the plane made a "controlled descent" of about 700 feet and was not in danger of collision.
FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said the British Airways 777 was traveling 50 to 60 miles north of Tampa when it was first instructed by air traffic controllers to climb to 26,000 feet.
Meanwhile, a privately operated Beechcraft King Air was located a mile away and flying about 1,400 feet above the British Airways flight's altitude. The private aircraft told air traffic controllers that it was aware of the commercial airliner's position, Bergen said.
Air controllers instructed the British Airways flight, which had then reached an altitude of 16,800 feet, to go to 16,500 feet. The collision avoidance system was triggered and the pilot brought the plane down 700 feet in the controlled descent, Bergen said.
"British Airways didn't mention anything to air traffic control about injuries" during the flight, and the flight continued to London as planned, Bergen said.
She said the FAA was later notified by British Airways that four flight attendants received minor injuries.