(Reuters) - U.S. authorities said Tuesday they had halted for now a traffic-switching procedure at issue when three U.S. Airways flights came too close to one another over Washington's Reagan National Airport last week.

The Federal Aviation Administration said no standard rules existed for "opposite-direction" operations used at airports nationwide. Such switches are made for noise mitigation and cargo operations, among other things.

They occur when an arrival or a departure is cleared to use a runway end that is opposite from the established flow of traffic.

In the July 31 incident over Reagan National, two regional commuter jets took off in the direction of an incoming flight with inadequate separation.

The mishap was caused by "miscommunication" between the control tower and a regional traffic-control hub while reversing traffic flow because of bad weather developing to the south, according to FAA preliminary findings.  

The FAA believes the lack of a standard protocol for opposite-direction operations contributed to the miscommunication, J. David Grizzle, the FAA's chief operating officer, said in a memo.