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Pilot for United Airlines Reports Near-Collision With Small Plane

November 30, 1987

A United Airlines pilot reported that his Boeing 767 came within a hundred feet of hitting a single-engine Cessna at 7:33 a.m. Sunday, a few minutes after it took off from Long Beach Airport, according to a Federal Aviation Administration official in Los Angeles.

The pilot of Flight 76 said he was at 3,500 feet, climbing and heading south about 5 1/2 miles southwest of the airport when he saw the Cessna and dived to avoid it, passing about 100 feet directly beneath the smaller plane, FAA spokeswoman Elly Brekke said.

The United Airlines plane continued on to its destination in Chicago, she said. The FAA tried to track the smaller plane but lost it in the Santa Ana canyon area. No one on the jetliner carrying 108 passengers and a crew of 8 was injured.

Brekke said air traffic controllers in El Toro had warned the United pilot that another plane was in the area. But the Cessna was either not equipped with or not using a Mode C transponder, a device that allows controllers to pinpoint a plane's altitude.

Brekke said she did not know how long before the incident the advisory was given.

United spokesman Matt Gonring said the flight arrived at Chicago without incident.

The FAA will investigate the incident, Brekke said.

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