Three US commuter jets were involved in a near miss Tuesday at Reagan National Airport after a mix-up by air traffic controllers, the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday.
The FAA said preliminary indications show that two outbound planes came within 500 and 600 feet respectively of an incoming airliner.
The situation arose when air controllers, responding to bad weather developing south of the airport, decided to change the runway and direction from which planes were landing and taking off at the airport.
"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 in an email.
The planes had been 12 seconds from impact when the tower controller recognised her mistake, said a Washington Post report. The newspaper reported that the aircraft involved US Airways commuter jets carrying 192 passengers and crew.
"The FAA is investigating the incident," Brown said.