(Reuters) – A mystery airplane prompted an evacuation of the Capitol building and scrambling of military fighter jets on Saturday but authorities said the false alarm was caused by a commercial airliner briefly losing radio contact.
A Federal Aviation Administration official said a Piedmont Airlines plane in the Washington, D.C. area briefly lost radio contact and military planes took off to find it.
“Shortly after that we reestablished contact with the plane, and it has been on the ground at (Reagan National Airport) for a while. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials are interviewing the pilots,” FAA spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere said.
NBC news reported that the Capitol building was evacuated for a short time. Most members of Congress and their staffs do not return to Washington until next week.
Since the September 11, 2001 suicide attack on the Pentagon in Washington, U.S. authorities consider any unidentified airplane approaching the Washington area as a threat and scramble fighters.
(Writing by Greg McCune, Editing by Peter Bohan)
Source Article: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE7001L420110101