Jets Narrowly Avoid Midair Collision Near D.C., Investigation Ongoing
Three airborne jets almost collided near Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport outside the nation's capital on Tuesday, reports say.
The U.S. Airways planes came within seconds of hitting one another after air traffic controllers apparently mistakenly cleared two outbound flights to head in the direction of one oncoming.
Each flight carried passengers and crew members totaling 192 people, and The Washington Post directly cited that federal officials were aware of the incident.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a statement Tuesday, emailing that it will take "appropriate action to address the miscommunication," according to the Washington Post.
Moreover, the FAA said that the close call occurred at around 2 p.m. due to the bad weather at the time, and that air traffic controllers switched landing and departing operations and miscommunication leading "to a loss of the required separation" between the jets.
The agency noted the landing plane came within 500 vertical feet and 1.7 lateral miles of one departing plane and 600 vertical feet and 2.8 lateral miles of the second plane, according to Yahoo News.
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Standard requirements for separation are 1,000 vertical feet and 3.4 lateral miles.
The jets were apparently 12 seconds from colliding with one another, according to MyFoxDC.
Fortunately, an air traffic controller realized the error and ordered the incoming traffic to turn and avoided the crash, reported Fox News.
Due to the close call, there was reportedly an angry exchange between the incoming plane's pilot and the control tower, reported The Washington Post.
"We were cleared at the river there," said the pilot. "What happened?"
The air traffic controller replied that the tower was "trying to figure this out."
On Wednesday, the FAA revealed that they are conducting an investigation on the incident.
Additionally, U.S. Airways spokesperson Todd Lehmacher said in an email that the airline is "currently investigating and working with the FAA to determine what occurred," reported Fox News.
The airline has more than 230 daily departures from Reagan National to over 70 cities.