- An American Airlines jet landing in Los Angeles had an encounter with a jetpack on Sunday while on approach to land at LAX, Fox 11 LA first reported.
- Pilots reported seeing a “guy in a jetpack” hovering at about 3,000 feet near the approach path roughly “300 yards” from their aircraft.
- No major disruption was caused to inbound aircraft, and the FAA told Fox 11 that it referred the case to the LAPD for investigation.
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American Airlines flight 1997 from Philadelphia to Los Angeles was nearing the end of an uneventful journey on Sunday when pilots reported seeing someone wearing a jetpack flying roughly level to their aircraft just a few hundred yards away.
The Airbus A321 passenger jet was coming in to land at Los Angeles International Airport when the pilots saw the rogue aeronaut to the south of the approach path in LA County’s South Gate, Fox 11 LA initially reported.
“Tower, American 1997, we just passed a guy in a jetpack,” the American Airlines pilot told Los Angeles approach controllers when the aircraft was about 3,000 feet high, according to Live ATC recordings and Flightradar24 data. The pilot estimated the jetpacker was flying at roughly the plane’s altitude about 300 yards away.
Air-traffic controllers notified other inbound aircraft that they weren’t alone in the skies. Multiple other pilots confirmed the report, including those on a JetBlue Airways flight from New York and a SkyWest Airlines flight from San Jose, California, operating for Delta Air Lines.
"JetBlue 23, we heard and we are definitely looking," a JetBlue Airways pilot responded when notified of the aerial hazard. The American Airlines jet and other inbound flights landed without issue.
The Federal Aviation Administration told Fox 11 that the Los Angeles Police Department would be notified so it could investigate the incident, but the department had not received the report at the time of Fox 11's story. Depending on where the jetpack was flying, the FAA might have grounds to pursue the pilot.
The FAA views jetpacks as "ultralight" aircraft, and regulations restrict them from flying "over any congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or over any open air assembly of persons." The fine could range from $1,100 to $27,500 if the FAA's enforcement division finds the jetpack operator negligent.
"Only in LA," an unidentified aircraft said after hearing the radio exchange.