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Jet lost contact in DC because of pilot error

Federal officials say an airliner pilot inadvertently turned his radio to the wrong frequency, leading the plane to lose radio contact and prompting the evacuation of the U.S. Capitol. ...

Federal officials say an airliner pilot inadvertently turned his radio to the wrong frequency, leading the plane to lose radio contact and prompting the evacuation of the U.S. Capitol.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters says the agency is reviewing the "pilot readback error." The loss of radio contact as the plane approached the nation's capital led officials to dispatch fighter jets and also evacuate all House and Senate office buildings.

The FAA said Piedmont Airlines flight 4352 from Hilton Head, S.C., was on course for Reagan National Airport when it lost radio contact with air traffic controllers at a regional radar facility in Virginia for about 15 minutes.

The evacuation order was issued around 1:30 p.m. and was called off about a half-hour later when the plane landed.

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Associated Press Writer Joan Lowy contributed to this report.

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Online:

Piedmont Airlines, Inc.: http://piedmont-airlines.com/

Reagan National Airport: http://www.metwashairports.com/reagan/reagan.htm

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) — An airliner lost radio contact Saturday as it approached the nation's capital, prompting the dispatch of fighter jets and the evacuation of the U.S. Capitol and all House and Senate office buildings.

Piedmont Airlines flight 4352 from Hilton Head, S.C., was on course for Reagan National Airport when it lost radio contact with air traffic controllers at a regional radar facility in Virginia for about 15 minutes, Federal Aviation Administration officials said.

F-16 fighter jets were scrambled from Andrews Air Force Base, but the airliner was able to re-establish radio contact and it landed at Reagan, said Stacey Knott, a spokeswoman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The evacuation order was issued around 1:30 p.m. and was called off about a half-hour later when the plane landed.

Piedmont is a wholly owned subsidiary of US Airways based in Salisbury, Md. US Airways spokeswoman Tina Swail said the airline was working with local authorities to investigate the incident.

The number of passengers on board wasn't immediately known. The company's website says it operates 44 de Havilland DHC-8 turboprop aircraft, which can carry between 37 and 80 passengers depending on the model type.

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Online:

Piedmont Airlines, Inc.: http://piedmont-airlines.com/

Reagan National Airport: http://www.metwashairports.com/reagan/reagan.htm

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