move it to wherever. the boys up north switched runway direction. the girls at the airport did not get the message. one from the north incoming two taking off to the north, or somesuch. i have commented a number of times before that dca runs both ways frequently. the big planes like to take off south. if there are little guys landing from the south they stack them up. this was a 12 sec(?) miss, which is really close.
EXCLUSIVE | Three US Airways jets came within seconds of a midair collision Tuesday as confused air traffic controllers launched two outbound flights directly at another plane coming in to land.
The problem Tuesday occurred about 2 p.m. as a number of inbound planes were queued up to turn above Mount Vernon, fly north over the Potomac River and land on National’s main runway. But an approaching storm caused a significant wind shift, and the air traffic control center in Warrenton wanted to reverse the flow of planes into the airport, turning them north of Rosslyn and routing them south along the river to land from the opposite direction.
The Warrenton controllers communicated the plan to the controller tower at National.
“The tower agreed, but they didn’t pass it on to all the people they needed to pass it on to,” said a federal official familiar with the incident who was not authorized to speak publicly.
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Links to sources
The Washington Post broke this story last night. Ashley Halsey's report has the 12-second figure, based on the combined closing speed of the incoming and departing US Airways Express commuter jets. His story doesn't clarify where the second departing aircraft was; how could you have two planes taking off from National in a position where both could collide with a third?
The Post's site also has about four minutes of ATC audio, in which everybody sounds pretty calm considering the description in the story. The departing flight is Republic Airlines 3467 (today's newly-learned tidbit: "Brickyard" is Republic's call sign) and the arriving flight is Republic 3329. That audio makes it sound like a third Republic flight, 3395, was about to take off instead of being in the air, but I'm not sure about the last detail. Update: I shouldn't have been sure; it was Republic 3071 that had taken off before 3467, as this graphic on the Post's site clarifies.
I should note that as I was reading the Post's story on a phone last night, we had the radio tuned to the Nationals game--and one of the Nats' most prominent sponsors on the air is the National Air Traffic Controllers Association. Their ads seemed a little awkward then.
Last edited by DCA writer; Aug 3, 12 at 12:04 pm.
Reason: Corrected a mistake and added a new link.