US officials said on Thursday they are investigating “miscommunication” this week that led three US Airways planes – two outbound and one inbound – to approach unacceptably close to each other over Washington’s Reagan National Airport.
In a statement about the incident, the Federal Aviation Administration said bad weather south of the nation’s capital on Tuesday forced controllers to divert planes to a different runway.
“During the switchover of operations, miscommunication… led to a loss of the required separation between two regional jets departing from Runway 1 and a regional jet inbound for Runway 19,” the FAA said in a statement.
US Airways did not return a request for comment.
The incident, first reported by The Washington Post, took place just after 2 pm EDT (1800 GMT). No one was hurt and the planes made their final destinations without incident, an agency spokeswoman said.
Onboard the planes were 192 passengers and crew members, the newspaper said.
“The FAA is investigating the incident and will take appropriate action to address the miscommunication,” the FAA said.
The Washington Post in its report said the commuter jets “came within seconds of a midair collision,” citing a federal official familiar with the incident.
The airport, on the Potomac River a few miles from the Pentagon, is one of three serving the Washington region.
In March last year, a lone controller fell asleep on the midnight shift at the airport with two jets en route. The two flights landed without incident.