‘Something was wrong’: Passenger on DCA plane that narrowly missed collision shares first-person account

ARLINGTON, Va. (DC News Now) — FAA continues its federal investigation into how two planes nearly collided on the runway at Reagan National Airport. A passenger on one of the flights is sharing her experience.

Theresa Hofmann was traveling from DCA to Boston to perform in a comedy show Thursday.

“It was pretty apparent right away that something had happened and something was wrong,” she said.

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Hofmann said the JetBlue flight crew was helpful and communicative during the hours-long delay that followed, but in the moment, passengers around her were trying to look through the window to see why the plan came to a sudden halt.

“I definitely didn’t feel that terrified in the moment, but then afterwards when I was telling people about it, everyone was like,  ‘Oh, I’m so glad you were safe,’” she said.

FAA data shows runway incursions are trending slightly downward. After there were more than 1,700 incursions across the country in each of the last two fiscal years, FY24 is on pace for more than 1,600.

In FY23, the majority of incursions was caused by the actions of a pilot.

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Tom Lintner, a former FAA air traffic controller and current CEO of the Aloft Group, said the investigation will focus on the communication between all parties.

“When you look at something like this, what you have to do is double check to make sure there was no miscommunication at that point,” he said.

Lintner went on to explain all the dialogue is recorded and will be investigated thoroughly.

Meanwhile, the near-miss has reignited the debate over whether Congress should allow more flights at Reagan National Airport.

Virginia’s two U.S. Senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, spoke on the Senate floor on Friday imploring their colleague to block a plan to increase the number of flights at D.C.’s closest airport. Their explanation was that the runways are already overcrowded and adding flights would put passenger safety at risk.

“The incident yesterday was a big warning light, flashing red, telling Congress not to take steps that would weaken the safety of this airport,” Kaine said.

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But Brian Walsh of the Capital Access Alliance, a lobbyist group advocating for more flights to DCA, said these types of incidents can happen at any airport and should not deter the plan to add more flights.

“These same Virginia senators have called for expanding more flights at Dulles, and that’s even after they had a very similar incident at Dulles,” he said.

Both Southwest and JetBlue, the two airlines involved in the incident, said they are cooperating with the investigation.

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