WASHINGTON — Three commuter jets narrowly averted a midair collision near Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, according to a report.

US Airways said late Wednesday that it was working with federal officials to investigate the incident.

The Washington Post reported that three US Airways jets carrying 192 passengers and crew members came within seconds of a midair collision at around 2 p.m. ET on Tuesday afternoon. The newspaper cited federal officials with direct knowledge of the incident.

The newspaper reported 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.

The Post report cited a discussion between a pilot and an air traffic controller:

“Are you with me?” the tower controller asked the inbound pilot, checking to see whether he was tuned to her radio frequency. When the pilot acknowledged her, she ordered him to make an abrupt turn to the south to avoid the other two planes.

“We were cleared [for landing] at the river there,” the pilot said after breaking off the approach northwest of the airport. “What happened?”

After a pause, the controller said, “Stand by, we’re trying to figure this out.”

As she directed him to make a loop around the airport for a second landing attempt the pilot cautioned: “We really don’t have enough fuel here for this. We have to get on the ground pretty quick.”

The planes all reached their destinations safely.

The Post reported that the FAA issued a statement saying it is investigating the matter and would address the communication lapse.

An FAA representative couldn’t immediately be reached for comment late Wednesday night.

US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher said in an email sent to the AP that the airline is “currently investigating and working with the FAA to determine what occurred. The safety of our customers and employees is always our top priority.” He had no other details.

Source: NBC News


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