Three US Airways Express regional jets flew too closely together Tuesday afternoon near Washington's Ronald Reagan National Airport.
Miscommunication between air-traffic controllers in a facility in Warrenton, Va., and a tower at the airport "led to a loss of the required separation" between two jets taking off and another jet landing, the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that at no point were the planes on a head-to-head collision course.
The aircraft were operated by Republic Airlines and Chautauqua Airlines— two of nine US Airways Express carriers. Both fly Embraer regional jets.
The FAA and US Airways would not confirm how many passengers and crew were aboard the jets.
The FAA said that just after 2 p.m. Tuesday, the air-traffic facility in Warrenton changed the air-traffic flow at Reagan National Airport because of "bad weather developing south of the airport."
Planes had been landing and taking off, from south to north, on Runway 1 until the air-traffic control facility switched landings and takeoffs from north to south, on Runway 19.
During the switch, two jets taking off from Runway 1 and a jet descending to Runway 19 flew too closely together. The FAA did not say how close the jets were to one another.
"The FAA is investigating the incident and will take appropriate action to address the miscommunication," the agency says in a written statement.
US Airways spokesman Andrew Christie would not comment about the incident and referred all questions to the FAA.
US Airways Express operates more than 1,900 flights daily to 143 destinations.
The airline has more than 230 daily departures from the airport to more than 70 cities.
The airport had another high-profile safety incident in March 2011 when two airliners landed without assistance from the tower. Pilots were unable to raise the lone supervisor on duty at midnight. The supervisor acknowledged he had fallen asleep. A second controller has since been added to the midnight shift at Reagan National.