By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) apologized late Friday for failing to provide advance notification to the U.S. Capitol Police of a small airplane flight that prompted a security scare earlier this week.
The single-engine plane flying the U.S. Army’s Golden Knights parachute demonstration team over a baseball game near the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday was mistaken for a potential security threat.
“We did not provide advance notification of this event to the U.S. Capitol Police,” the FAA said in disclosing its initial review findings. “We deeply regret that we contributed to a precautionary evacuation of the Capitol complex and apologize for the disruption and fear experienced by those who work there.”
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday criticized what she said was an “outrageous and frightening mistake” by the FAA for failing to alert Capitol Police to the pre-planned performance over the Washington Nationals baseball stadium.
The FAA said Wednesday it is “taking immediate steps to ensure that we always coordinate well in advance with other agencies to avoid confusion over future aviation events in the Washington, D.C., area.”
The FAA review is continuing, it added, pledging to “take any additional steps necessary to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.”
The U.S. Capitol Police on Wednesday first said they were tracking an aircraft that posed a “probable threat” to the Capitol complex, but minutes later said there was no threat.
The Golden Knights parachuted into the Washington Nationals’ baseball stadium, Nationals Park, a little over a mile away from the U.S. Capitol.
Pelosi said Wednesday Congress would review what went wrong. Pelosi’s office did not immediately comment late Friday. She said Congress wanted to know who at the FAA “will be held accountable for this outrageous and frightening mistake.”
Capitol Police said in an email to congressional staff Wednesday seen by Reuters it “will be working with our airspace partners to address the notification issues.”
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler, Bernard Orr)