Jets 'never on collision course'

pa.press.net
With the Capitol in the background, a US Airways airplane makes its approach at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (AP/Haraz N. Ghanbari) // With the Capitol in the background, a US Airways airplane makes its approach at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (AP/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
With the Capitol in the background, a US Airways airplane makes its approach at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (AP/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
None of the three commuter jets that flew too close together near Washington was ever on course to collide head-on with the others, the US government said.
During a news conference, US transportation secretary Ray LaHood strongly disputed media reports characterising what happened as a near-miss.
"At no point were the three aircraft on a head-to-head course. They were not on a collision course," said Michael Huerta, administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA said it "is investigating the incident and will take appropriate action to address the miscommunication". The National Transportation Safety Board said it, too, was investigating.
The jet problem occurred on Tuesday after a miscommunication between a manager at Potomac Consolidated Terminal Radar Approach Control and two traffic management co-ordinators at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Mr Huerta said.
The exact nature of the miscommunication was not immediately clear, but there was apparently a failure on both ends to follow standard procedure.
Air traffic controllers at the time had been changing the direction planes were landing and taking off at the airport because of bad weather including several thunderstorms, the closest about six miles south. Controllers cleared two outbound flights to head in the direction of an incoming plane.
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