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Entries in Reagan National Airport (4)

Thursday
Aug022012

Near Midair Collision Between Three Jets Prompts FAA Investigation

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into an incident, first reported by the Washington Post, in which three airplanes nearly collided midair at Reagan National Airport Tuesday afternoon.

The newspaper reported on Wednesday that an incoming US Airways jet that was cleared for landing ended up flying directly towards two departing US Airways jets after it had been rerouted.  A storm that brought a change in wind patterns prompted air traffic controllers to reverse the flow of traffic around 2 p.m. Tuesday.

A collision was avoided -- by about 12 seconds, according to the Post -- between the inbound plane and the first of the two outbound planes when an air traffic controller recognized the mistake and ordered the inbound flight to change course.

The FAA, which was alerted to the near mishap by the newspaper, issued a statement Wednesday night explaining the situation.

"DCA (Reagan National Airport) had been landing and departing aircraft on Runway 1, from the south to the north.  Due to the bad weather developing, the Tracon (Terminal Radar Approach Control) was switching operations to land and depart aircraft from the north to the south on Runway 19.  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," the FAA said.

"Preliminary information indicates that the closest proximity was 1.45 nm lateral and 500 ft. vertical for the first plane departing Runway 1 and 2.42 nm lateral and 600 ft. vertical for the second plane," the agency noted.  Standard separation requirements are 3 nm lateral and 1,000 ft. vertical.

The FAA said it was "investigating the incident and will take appropriate action to address the miscommunication."

The National Transportation Safety Board, which was also made aware of the report, said on Wednesday it was in the process of gathering information to determine whether it too will launch an investigation.

US Airways, the airline reportedly involved in the incident, issued a statement saying it was looking into the matter and working with the FAA to determine what happened.

"The safety of our customers and employees is always our top priority," the carrier said.

According to the Washington Post, 192 passengers and crew members were aboard the three planes.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jun202011

Plane Sweeped at Reagan National Airport Following Bomb Threat

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- A US Airways plane was deemed clear by FBI officials after landing at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Sunday afternoon following a bomb threat.

According to authorities, a verbal bomb threat was made regarding US Airways flight 2596 at a ticket counter in Dayton, Ohio -- where the plane originated.  Citing an FBI spokesperson, ABC News affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C. reports that Dayton Airport Police have taken the woman who allegedly made the threat into custody on a "mental health hold."  No charges have been filed against her.

The bomb threat was received while the plane was approaching its destination, Reagan National Airport.  Upon landing safely, all 44 passengers on board were bused from the airplane to the terminal.

No hazards were found after officials sweeped the plane.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Mar252011

Air Traffic Controller Asleep on Duty at Reagan National, NTSB Says

US Geological Survey/ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- An air traffic controller at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport fell asleep on duty early Wednesday morning, leaving the control tower silent and forcing pilots of two commercial planes to land on their own, the National Transportation Safety Board said Thursday.

The controller, who had 20 years of experience, including 17 at Reagan National, was suspended earlier Thursday by the Federal Aviation Administration while its investigation proceeds.

The NTSB report, which does not name the controller, said he had been working his fourth consecutive overnight shift, which runs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., and that "human fatigue issues are one of the areas being investigated."

"I am determined to get to the bottom of this situation for the safety of the traveling public," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement announcing the controller's suspension.

Pilots of an American Airlines and United Airlines plane each said they had been in contact with regional air traffic controllers before being handed off to the Reagan National tower for approach and landing.

But as the planes radioed their requests to land in the nation's capital early Wednesday morning, all they heard was silence.

"American 1900, just so you're aware the tower is apparently not manned," a regional controller told the pilots of one plane, according to radio recordings obtained by ABC News.  "So you can expect to go in as an uncontrolled airport."

The pilot executed an airport flyover -- routine aviation procedure -- before landing on his own without help from the ground.

Fifteen minutes later, United flight 628 from Chicago also was unable to contact the Reagan tower.

"The aircraft went in just as an uncontrolled airport," one regional controller said on the recording.  "It's happened before though."

The United pilot also treated the airport as unmanned and landed safely.

Federal transportation officials are now conducting a comprehensive review air traffic controller staffing at airports across the country.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

FAA Suspends AWOL Controller at Reagan National Airport

John Foxx/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Aviation Administration suspended an air traffic control supervisor Thursday at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport who went AWOL early Wednesday morning, leaving the control tower silent and forcing pilots of two commercial planes to land on their own.

"I am determined to get to the bottom of this situation for the safety of the traveling public," FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said in a statement announcing the suspension while the investigation proceeds. The name of the controller was not provided. "As a former airline pilot, I am personally outraged that this controller did not meet his responsibility to help land these two airplanes," he said. "Fortunately, at no point was either plane out of radar contact and our back-up system kicked in to ensure the safe landing of both airplanes."

Federal transportation officials have launched an investigation of the incident and a comprehensive review air traffic controller staffing at airports across the country.

Pilots of an American Airlines and United Airlines plane each said they had been in contact with regional air traffic controllers before being handed off to the Reagan National tower for approach and landing.

But as the planes radioed their requests to land in the nation's capital early Wednesday morning, all they heard was silence.

"American 1900, just so you're aware the tower is apparently not manned," a regional controller told the pilots of one plane, according to radio recordings obtained by ABC News. "So you can expect to go in as an uncontrolled airport."

The pilot executed an airport flyover -- routine aviation procedure -- before landing on his own without help from the ground.

Fifteen minutes later, United flight 628 from Chicago was also unable to contact the Reagan tower.

"The aircraft went in just as an uncontrolled airport," one regional controller says on the recording. "It's happened before though."

The United pilot again treated the airport as unmanned and landed safely.

The National Transportation Safety Board is also looking into the incident, which occurred between midnight and 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

While Reagan National is staffed with multiple air traffic controllers during the day, the overnight shift is managed by just one controller, because there are no departures overnight and few arrivals.

"The reality is that we should probably never have just one controller at a major airport anytime, anywhere," said aviation expert John Nance. "But the fact that it's Washington, DC, obviously accelerates the questions like this."

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood took the unusual step late Wednesday of immediately ordering a second air traffic controller at Reagan National Airport on the midnight shift. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio