US Airways said that three regional planes carrying 192 passengers and crew members “came within seconds of a midair collision” Tuesday afternoon at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
The Washington Post reports that air traffic controllers cleared two outbound flights to head in the direction of an incoming plane. Controllers were reversing the path of planes coming into the airport in response to an approaching storm, but the paper said that the information wasn’t fully relayed.
“During the switchover of operations, miscommunication between the Tracon and the DCA tower led to a loss of the required separation between two regional jets departing from Runway 1 and a regional jet inbound for Runway 19,” FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said.
All three flights and their combined 192 occupants landed safely.
The planes had been 12 seconds from impact when the tower controller recognized her mistake, said the report.
The Post’s sources say the Warrenton center communicated its plan to the controllers’ tower at National Airport.
“The tower agreed, but they didn’t pass it on to all the people they needed to pass it on to,” an unnamed federal official “familiar with the incident” tells the Post.
The FAA is investigating the incident, which CBS News aviation analyst Mark Rosenker says, “clearly was a violation of the procedures. The minimums were broken.”