FAA looks into unheeded emergency call

DENVER - The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating after an air traffic controller was accused of ignoring a request for an emergency landing in Denver after a commercial airline pilot reported smoke in the cabin.

The controller thought it was a prank and dismissed the emergency call, according to recordings obtained by KUSA-TV.


The United Express plane from Peoria, Ill., was evacuated Tuesday after landing at Denver International Airport. An FAA report said firefighters extinguished a fire in the instrument panel.

Controllers apparently realized the mistake when the pilot made another emergency call saying the plane had landed and was evacuating on the runway. It was then that firetrucks responded. One of the 21 passengers was taken to the hospital. The name and condition of the patient were not available.

A transcript of the recording shows that the controller apparently misunderstood the call letters of the airliner.

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