Harrison Ford escapes fine, license loss for botched plane landing

Harrison Ford's near-collision with a loaded airliner during a botched landing at a Southern California airport six weeks ago won't be problem for either his wallet or his future flying: He isn't being fined and he won't lose his pilot's license.

Ford's lawyer, Stephen Hofer, issued a statement Monday saying that the Federal Aviation Administration has completed and closed its investigation of the alarming episode Feb. 13 at John Wayne Airport in Orange County.

Instead of a fine and loss of license, Ford, 74, likely will undergo "counseling" and further "training," a statement from the FAA indicated.

Ford's long flying record, his otherwise good history of following the rules, and his "cooperative attitude" during the inquiry all contributed to the agency's decision, Hofer said.

"The FAA conducted a full investigation into the matter, including an interview with Mr. Ford, and determined that no administrative or enforcement action was warranted. Mr. Ford retains his pilot’s certificate without restriction," Hofer's statement said.

"In closing the matter, the agency acknowledged Mr. Ford’s long history of compliance with the Federal Aviation Regulations and his cooperative attitude during the investigation. Mr. Ford has held a pilot’s certificate for more than 20 years, has logged more than 5,000 hours in the air, and has never been the subject of an FAA administrative or enforcement action."

The FAA confirmed it has completed its investigation but would not get into details because it involves an individual pilot, said Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the FAA's West Coast division.

"Any letters the FAA issued in connection with this case can be requested through the Freedom of Information Act," which can take months, Gregor said in a statement.

Gregor provided some details about the FAA's procedures in such matters: He said the FAA’s goal is to ensure pilots comply with rules and regulations.

"When a deviation results from factors such as flawed procedures or simple mistakes, we typically use tools including counseling and training to ensure compliance going forward," Gregor's statement said.

Ford mistakenly landed his Aviat Husky plane on a taxiway at the airport after flying low over an American Airlines jet with 116 people aboard. Landing on a taxiway is a violation of FAA rules.

"I'm the schmuck who landed on the taxiway," Ford told an air traffic controller shortly after the close call. Recordings of Ford's conversations with air traffic controllers were released last month by the FAA.

The actor was told to land his single-engine plane on Runway 20L, but he instead landed on a parallel taxiway.  The AA flight was on the same taxiway, waiting to take off.  There was no collision but it was close. The flight departed safely for Dallas a few minutes later.

He explained later to controllers that he "got distracted by the airliner" and also mentioned "big turbulence" from another plane that was landing at the same time.

Ford, who collects vintage planes, has a long record as an aviator. He has had several close calls and a serious accident in March 2015 when he was injured in his World War II-era trainer. It crashed on a Los Angeles golf course after engine failure.

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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