American Airlines and United Airlines planes landed safely at about 12:10 a.m. and 12:25 a.m., respectively, Peter Knudson, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said in an interview.
Pilots of the American plane aborted a first landing attempt when no one in the tower responded to calls and then landed without assistance, Knudson said. The United pilots landed the first time, and crews from both planes treated the airport the same as one that doesnít ordinarily have controllers in early morning hours, he said.
There was one controller working in the Reagan tower at the time, Knudson said. The board doesnít yet know why the worker didnít respond to calls and is looking into the possibility the controller was asleep, he said. The planes were in contact with controllers at a regional center in Virginia, he said.
Shortly after the United flight landed, the tower was responsive, Knudson said.