Close Call Reported at Reagan National Airport

Airplane, helicopter nearly collide; NTSB investigating

By Brandon Benavides
|  Sunday, May 26, 2013  |  Updated 3:40 PM EDT
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The control tower at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on August 2, 2012 in Arlington, VA.

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Investigators with the National Transportation Security Board are investigating a close call at Reagan National Airport.

In a statement released Saturday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the near-miss happened at around 4 p.m. Friday when Republic Airlines flight 3281, an Embraer E170 aircraft coming from Columbus, Ohio and ultimately bound for Huntsville, Alabama, attempted to land.

At the same time, the statement continued, a military helicopter briefly climbed to the same altitude of 400 feet as the airplane. The FAA statement initially identified the helicopter as a UH-60, or Black Hawk; however, the agency later identified it as a UH-1. A squadron of UH-1 helicopters is based at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.

At their closest point, the two aircraft were only 950 feet apart laterally, Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, told the Associated Press.

The helicopter climbed to a safer altitude after air traffic controllers advised the pilots of each other's location. The plane made a missed approach before circling around again and landing safely a few minutes later. No injuries or damage was reported

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