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FAA apologizes for failing to notify Capitol Police about aircraft that prompted evacuation

Capitol Police had sent an email to staffers and media warning of an approaching airplane that turned out to be part of Military Appreciation Night at nearby Nationals Park.
The U.S. Army Parachute Team the Golden Knights descend into National Park before a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Arizona Diamondbacks, in Washington, DC., on April 20, 2022.Alex Brandon / AP

The Federal Aviation Administration acknowledged Friday that it did not notify U.S. Capitol Police about a parachute demonstration at a nearby baseball stadium that prompted a frenzied evacuation of the Capitol complex Wednesday night.

The FAA said its initial review found that the agency failed to provide advance notice to Capitol Police of the evening's planned events.

“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,” the FAA said in a statement.

The apology comes two days after the Capitol was briefly evacuated before the Army's Golden Knights parachuted into the stadium where the Washington Nationals play for Military Appreciation Night. Nationals Park is about a mile from the Capitol.

Capitol Police initially called for an evacuation, saying in an email to staffers at the Capitol, “The USCP is tracking an aircraft that poses a probable threat to the Capitol Complex.”

In a subsequent statement, police said: "The Capitol was evacuated out of an abundance of caution this evening. There is no threat at the Capitol."

The law enforcement agency later called the lack of coordination “extremely unusual," saying Thursday that it was typically made aware of hundreds of authorized flights in the “restricted airspace” every week.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, sharply criticized the FAA on Wednesday night.

“The unnecessary panic caused by this apparent negligence was particularly harmful for Members, staff and institutional workers still grappling with the trauma of the attack on their workplace on January 6th,” she said at the time.

The FAA said Friday it was taking “immediate steps” to ensure coordination with other agencies to avoid confusion in future aviation events in the Washington, D.C.-area.

The agency did not specify what those steps would be or if there would be any disciplinary action stemming from Wednesday's chaos.

NBC News has reached out to the FAA for comment.