Three aircraft have come close to an accident at Regan National Airport in Washington following a “miscommunication” with air traffic control.
Reports from the United States transport officials said two regional commuter jets took off in the direction of an incoming flight with inadequate separation.
All three jets were operated by US Airways.
Supervisors at both the control tower in Washington and the routing hub known as Potomac Terminal Radar Approach Control, or TRACON, failed to follow standard procedures during a reversal of traffic flow at the airport.
Acting head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Michael Huerta, said at issue was a routine maneuver to keep runways for departures facing into the wind.
Transportation secretary Ray LaHood told a explained none of the planes had been on a collision course with another.
However, standard separation distances - 1,000 feet vertically and three nautical miles laterally - had been breached.
An alert controller in the tower caught the problem and quickly took corrective action, added LaHood.