Jet collision narrowly avoided at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

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“We are aware of the incident and are working with the FAA to fully understand the circumstances,” Southwest Airlines told CNN.


The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating how two jetliners were placed on an apparent collision course as they departed Reagan National Airport Thursday morning, prompting air traffic controllers to frantically radio signals each plane to stop.

Air traffic control audio recordings detail controllers screaming for a JetBlue flight to halt takeoff as a Southwest Airlines flight began to move across the runway in front of it.

The two planes stopped about 400 feet apart, according to data compiled by FlightRadar24, which also shows that at least the “forward fuselage” of the Southwest flight entered the runway.

Recordings from showed that a controller in charge of the runways at Reagan National Airport cleared the JetBlue Airways flight to take off at about 7:40 a.m. At about the same time, a controller directed a Southwest Airlines plane across the same runway.

About 30 seconds after the JetBlue plane was cleared, controllers shouted for both planes to stop.

“JetBlue 1554 has stopped! 1554 Stop!” The tower controller called out.

“2937 stop!” I commanded the ground console.

The Southwest pilot replied: We stopped. “We have obtained permission to cross runway 4.”

The Federal Aviation Administration said it would investigate the incident, and acknowledged in a statement to CNN that the two planes had been sent to the runway.

“The air traffic controller instructed Southwest Airlines Flight 2937 to transit Runway 4 at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport as JetBlue Flight 1554 was beginning takeoff on the same runway,” the FAA said.

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After the accident, the JetBlue plane returned to the runway threshold and then took off for Boston-Logan.

“Do you have room to circle southwest or even back again to Runway 4 full length?” asked the observer.

“Looks like we can go left on Alpha, JetBlue 1554,” the pilot replied.

The Southwest plane was directed to continue crossing that runway and headed toward the second runway, where it took off as planned, bound for Orlando.

JetBlue said its flight to Boston “aborted takeoff due to another aircraft attempting to cross the runway.” The airline said the plane was inspected and then left safely.

“We are aware of the incident and are working with the FAA to fully understand the circumstances,” Southwest Airlines told CNN.

CNN has reached out to the National Transportation Safety Board to see if it plans to investigate the accident.

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