FAA investigates mix-up that brought three passenger jets dangerously close to each other.
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating a Tuesday incident involving three passenger jets at Washington's Reagan National Airport.
Officials say the event wasn't the near miss the Washington Post made it out to be.
"The planes were on different headings and at different altitudes, so they would not have collided," said acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
The Post reported air traffic controllers nearly had three commuter jets on a collision course, but averted disaster by seconds by diverting one incoming jet from the runway where the two others were waiting to take off, confusing the pilot of the incoming jet.
A minute later, the recording shows the controller was confused, too.
"Standby. We're trying to figure this out too, standby," he can be heard saying.
That prompted a dramatic response from the pilot a minute and a half later:
"Okay. We really don't have enough fuel for that...We've got to get on the ground here pretty quick."
The FAA says approaching bad weather Tuesday forced the airport to switch the direction flights were taking off and landing and admits that wasn't communicated promptly, but a defensive Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood praised the controller who recognized it promptly enough.
"Classic case of where the air traffic controller did exactly what she was supposed to do," LaHood said.
The FAA says all three planes were equipped with collision avoidance systems, but none was activated by the incident.