Collision narrowly avoided at Reagan National Airport after two jets were cleared onto the same runway

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating how two jetliners were put on an apparent collision course as they were leaving Reagan National Airport Thursday morning, prompting air traffic controllers to frantically radio each plane to stop.

Air traffic control audio recordings detail controllers shouting for a JetBlue flight to stop its takeoff run as a Southwest Airlines flight began taxiing across the runway in front of it.

The two planes stopped about 400 feet apart, according to data compiled by FlightRadar24, which also shows at least the “forward fuselage” of the Southwest flight had entered the runway.

A controller responsible for the runways at Reagan National had cleared the JetBlue Airways flight to take off at about 7:40 a.m., the recordings from showed. At around the same time, a controller responsible for taxiing aircraft directed a Southwest Airlines jet across the same runway.

About 30 seconds after clearing the JetBlue plane, the controllers shouted for both planes to stop.

“JetBlue 1554 stop! 1554 stop!” the tower controller called out.

“2937 stop!” the ground controller ordered.

The Southwest pilot replied: “We stopped. We were cleared to cross Runway 4.”

The FAA said it will investigate the incident and acknowledged in a statement to CNN that both planes were sent onto the runway.

“An air traffic controller instructed Southwest Airlines Flight 2937 to cross Runway 4 at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport while JetBlue Flight 1554 was starting its takeoff roll on the same runway,” the FAA said.

Following the incident, the JetBlue plane taxied back to the runway threshold and then took off for Boston Logan.

“Do you have room to get around the Southwest or even double back on Runway 4 full length?” the controller asked.

“Looks like we can make a left on Alpha, JetBlue 1554,” the pilot replied.

The Southwest plane was directed to continue across that runway and taxi toward a second runway, where it took off as planned, bound for Orlando.

JetBlue said its Boston-bound flight “aborted take-off due to another aircraft attempting to cross the runway.” The plane was inspected and then departed safely, the airline said.

“We are aware of the incident and are working with the FAA to fully understand the circumstances,” Southwest Airlines told CNN.

CNN has reached out to the National Transportation Safety Board to see if it plans to investigate the incident.

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