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Charlotte Observer: US Airways Jets Had Near Miss


WASHINGTON -- The Federal Aviation Administration and US Airways say they are investigating a near-miss involving three passenger jets Tuesday afternoon near Reagan National Airport. According to a Washington Post report, air traffic controllers realized the mistake only 12 seconds before inbound and outbound jets would have collided. The Daily Mail reports two outbound jets came within 500 and 600 feet of an inbound jet. The specific flights involved in the near-miss have not been identified, but US Airways has confirmed that its flights were involved. According to multiple media reports, 192 passengers and crew were aboard the planes. The incident reportedly happened as a thunderstorm was approaching Reagan National Airport on Tuesday afternoon. According to the Washington Post, air traffic controllers in Warrenton, Va., told tower personnel at Reagan airport that they were changing the direction in which jets approach and leave the airport. The tower acknowledged the changes, according to the Post, but did not relay them to flight crews. The FAA confirmed the near-miss, telling ABC News, "The FAA is investigating and will take appropriate action to address the miscommunication." A recording of an air traffic controller's conversation with the pilot showed the urgency of the situation. The controller in the tower at Reagan National ordered one pilot to make a quick turn to the south. "We were cleared (for landing) at the river there," the pilot said after the turn. "What happened?" The controller responded, "Stand by. We're trying to figure this out." The recording shows the controller telling the US Airways pilot to fly around the airport one more time before landing, and the pilot responded, "We really don't have enough fuel for this. We have to get on the ground pretty quick." US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher issued a statement, saying the carrier is investigating and working with the FAA to find out what happened. Copyright 2012 . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Subscribe to The Charlotte Observer.