SANTIAGO, Chile – Pilots of a Chilean commercial aircraft approaching the Auckland airport in New Zealand spotted flaming pieces of a satellite falling past their jet, the LAN Chile airline reported Wednesday.
The airline said in a brief communique that the pilot, who was not identified, "made visual contact with incandescent fragments several kilometers away" on Monday.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on its Web site that pieces of a Russian satellite had narrowly missed the jet. It quoted New Zealand aviation authorities saying that they had been warned by Russian officials two weeks ago that the satellite would be entering the atmosphere, but that the Russians had apparently miscalculated the entry time.
The Airbus 340 had just entered New Zealand air space when the space debris was spotted and landed shortly afterward at the Auckland airport. It later continued on to its final destination in Sydney, Australia.
The airline said it reported the incident to authorities in Chile and New Zealand.
LAN said it would have no further comment.