Planes nearly collide at Washington airport, prompting FAA investigation

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed it is investigating a close call between two aircraft at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Wednesday. 

Around 10:30 a.m. local time, the FAA said an air traffic controller canceled the takeoff clearance for American Airlines Flight 2134 because another aircraft was cleared to land on an intersecting runway.

American Airlines told FOX Business that it will support the FAA in its investigation.

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“The safety of our customers and team members is our top priority, and we’re grateful to our crew for their professionalism,” American said in a statement. 

This incident comes roughly a month after the FAA announced it was looking into a close call involving JetBlue and Southwest aircraft that also occurred at the airport.

The FAA has been intensifying efforts to reduce runway incursions following a string of close calls at the start of 2023. 

In February 2023, then-acting Administrator Billy Nolen created a safety review team to examine the reliability of the nation’s air traffic system. He said that while air travel is coming back, the “long layoff, coupled with the increased technical nature of our systems, might have caused some professionals to lose some of that muscle memory.”

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Since Mike Whitaker took over as head of the agency in October 2023, he’s been looking into concerns that air traffic controllers are not getting enough sleep. 

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Since the FAA commissioned an independent panel of scientific fatigue experts to assess the risks introduced by controller fatigue in the system, it has been implementing systemic changes to ensure that air traffic controllers are getting sufficient rest. 

Just last month, the agency rolled out new airfield surveillance systems to minimize the risk of close calls between aircraft on the runway.

The FAA told FOX Business in April that it has “seen a recent drop in the rate of serious runway incidents.” 

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