Washington: Three US commuter jets were involved in a near miss two days ago at Reagan National Airport after a mix up by air traffic controllers, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed on Thursday.

Early indications showed that two outbound planes came within 500 and 600 feet (150 and 180 metres) respectively of an incoming airliner, the FAA said.

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.

Earlier, a Washington Post report said the aircraft involved in the incident had been US Airways commuter jets carrying 192 passengers and crew.

The planes had been 12 seconds from impact when the tower controller recognized her mistake, said the report.

She ordered the pilot of the inbound flight to make an abrupt turn to avoid the other two planes, the Post said.

"The FAA is investigating the incident and will take appropriate action to address the miscommunication," Brown said.


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