TECUMSEH, Mich. (WWJ/AP) – The operator of a southeast Michigan skydiving company says his pilot is blameless in a close encounter with a Spirit Airlines plane that forced the jetliner with 131 people aboard into a sharp evasive dive.
The Airbus 319 jetliner took off from Detroit Metropolitan Airport on Sunday evening and was bound for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport when the encounter occurred over Tecumseh.
Franz Gerschwiler operates Skydive Tecumseh and said the Federal Aviation Administration indicates his pilot did nothing wrong.
Gerschwiler told The Daily Telegram of Adrian that his company is “squeaky clean” and says his pilot “did everything right.”
Passenger Janet Dunnabeck called the experience “horrifying,” saying flight attendants bumped their heads, luggage bins popped open and screaming passengers feared they would die.
“Somebody made a huge error and put people’s lives at risk and terrified people,” Dunnabeck said.
Dunnabeck’s 19-year-old daughter, Gabrielle Maschke, said they were in such a deep nosedive, passengers “were being thrown around on the plane.”
FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Cory told The Associated Press investigators on Wednesday that they hadn’t yet reached conclusions on the conduct of the planes’ crews and air traffic controllers. She said the probe will take several weeks.
(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)