View Full Version : "2 close calls in one week jolt O'Hare"

25th Mar 2006, 16:11

Standby Scum
25th Mar 2006, 17:16
As to read this article requires one to register or log on, it would be a good idea to also publish a log and pass or copy and paste the article.:ugh:

25th Mar 2006, 17:18
Registration required. Any chance of a cut 'n paste?

25th Mar 2006, 17:30
Sorry for that but for some reason I managed to get the article without registering or logging in. Anyway here it is:

2 close calls in one week jolt O'Hare
Planes aborted takeoffs to avoid collision, feds say

By Jon Hilkevitch
Tribune transportation reporter
Published March 25, 2006

Twice this week planes were forced to abort takeoffs at O'Hare International Airport to avoid colliding with other aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration said Friday.

In one close call, two airliners that were mistakenly instructed to take off at the same time on crisscrossing runways came within 100 feet of each other before the pilots were alerted and stopped their planes near the runway intersection, officials said.

Tuesday's near collision ranks in the most serious category of runway incursions--situations where two aircraft are in the same area at the same time.

Incidents of such severity occur, on average, less than one time for every million takeoffs and landings, said FAA spokesman Greg Martin in Washington.

"It's extremely rare. We have gone an entire year without having a serious incident like that at any U.S. airport," he said.

The other incident, on Thursday, involved a plane sent to taxi across an active runway where another plane already had started its takeoff roll, the FAA said. The planes came within about 600 feet of each other.

"Both incidents look to be air-traffic controller errors," said FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro in Chicago. He said an FAA investigation is under way.

No one on the four planes was injured. But the incidents are considered so disturbing, and perhaps fit into a pattern of increasing runway incursions across the country, that the National Transportation Safety Board said it will dispatch investigators to O'Hare next week. The board typically responds to fatal accidents.

"We are sending investigators because O'Hare had two major runway incursions in one week," said safety board spokeswoman Lauren Peduzzi in Washington.

Seven runway incursions--five caused by controller errors, one by pilot error and one from an errant vehicle--occurred at O'Hare last year, the FAA said. The airport handled 972,246 flights last year. Not counting the incidents this week, four incursions, all controller errors, have taken place so far this year at O'Hare, the FAA said.

The incident on Tuesday began at 4:20 p.m., when an Airbus A319 operated by Lufthansa taxied onto Runway 4 Left and waited for a plane that had landed to exit the runway, the FAA said.

A Delta Connection regional jet also taxied onto intersecting Runway 9 Left while it waited for a plane to depart.

A controller--who is new to O'Hare and was being trained by a veteran controller--then cleared the Lufthansa plane to take off, the FAA said.

Thirty-five seconds later, the same trainee controller cleared the Delta Connection jet for takeoff on the intersecting runway, the FAA said.

Another controller noticed that both planes were rolling on a collision course, and the takeoff instructions to both airplanes were canceled, the FAA said. Pilots on both planes applied full braking.

"They stopped themselves just short of the intersection," Peduzzi said.

The planes ended up only 100 feet apart, the FAA said.

Another close call

Two days later, another close call occurred.

At 9:07 a.m. Thursday, a controller directed a United Airlines Boeing 737-300 to taxi onto 4 Left. The same controller instructed another plane, an Airbus A320 operated by United's low-cost carrier Ted, to taxi across 4 Left toward another runway, the FAA said.

Fifteen seconds later, the controller cleared the 737, carrying 111 passengers and five crew members bound for Washington, for takeoff, the FAA said. Twenty-two seconds later, the co-pilot of the 737 saw the Airbus, carrying 156 passengers to Orlando, moving toward the runway and advised the O'Hare tower that his plane was aborting its takeoff.

The planes came within 600 feet of crashing, the FAA said.

Pilots to be interviewed

The safety board's probe into the two incidents will involve reviewing radio communications and radar tapes. Officials also will interview the pilots and the air-traffic and ground controllers on duty in the O'Hare tower, Peduzzi said.

The airport's aircraft movement surveillance system will be studied to determine whether it alerted controllers to the potential collisions.

The runway safety technology that the FAA has deployed at O'Hare has no capability to recognize traffic on intersecting runways, officials said.

The equipment, called the Airport Movement Area Safety System, alerts controllers to a potential collision with as little as eight seconds of warning. It leaves little time for controllers to radio the warnings to pilots.

"The incidents at O'Hare this week point to the urgent need for new technology that lets pilots directly see other aircraft on the airport surface," said Pete Janhunen, a spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association, the largest airline union.

"The pilot is at the throttle. The pilot can avoid these things."


[email protected]

Golf Charlie Charlie
25th Mar 2006, 17:34
A Lufthansa A319 at Chicago ?

Edited to add : I guess it may be the Privatair service.

25th Mar 2006, 18:07
Gulf C C,

you are right. Privatair it was. Thankfully the crews were alert and initiated RTO's on their own. Or so I have heard.



25th Mar 2006, 21:08
Those guys are under enormous pressure to move an awful lot of traffic. Perhaps the more liberal attitude of the US regulator is what promotes the errors.

To quote the boss of a very busy US facility during a visit last year, "We don't do ICAO here". I accept that ICAO is not as progressive as it should be and I suspect it holds many of us back to a lower common denominator than is ideal and it may be this that is the fundamental failure. I think to tar the coalface ATCOs might be uncalled for.

Point 4

Out Of Trim
25th Mar 2006, 22:27
Incidents of such severity occur, on average, less than one time for every million takeoffs and landings, said FAA spokesman Greg Martin in Washington.

"It's extremely rare. We have gone an entire year without having a serious incident like that at any U.S. airport," he said.


I'm sure this kind of incident has occurred twice before these two in the US in recent months. One was at Boston - Logan and I can't recall the location of the other but, It appears to be a growing problem; especially on runways that cross each other. :(

25th Mar 2006, 23:38
The other incursion you may be thinking of was at LAX but involved closely spaced parallels and not crossing runways.
Incursions and their prevention is a hot topic here too. Transport Canada (http://www.tc.gc.ca/civilaviation/systemsafety/Posters/tools.htm) and Nav Canada (http://www.navcanada.ca/ContentDefinitionFiles/Publications/CorpPublications/AdditionalPublications/IncursionStudy_en.pdf) have lots to say on the subject.
The use of "taxi into position and hold" is also mentioned insofar as aircraft should not be allowed to line up on the runway if there will be a delay to their departure. 3 minutes is a recommended maximum and the instruction should include the reason for the delay and the anticipated length of the delay. Seems much more common sense than stopping its use altogether.
In relation to the ORD incident, what was the trainee's instructor doing? It seems the conflict was spotted by another controller not the trainee or their instructor. Troubling.

26th Mar 2006, 05:57
Once again I'll go on the record, lives will have be lost before the FAA steps in and regulates USA RT standards to an acceptable, safe level, bringing them in line with European standards.

What worries me is that as one who operates there, it could be my life.

This is not just simple and all to easy Yank bashing, but cold professional fact.

As a starter(feel free to follow with an example), if you are number 4 on finals at 12 miles with 3 aircraft ahead, one on the runway, you cannot be cleared to land! But you will be!

26th Mar 2006, 06:51
QAR ASR. This is all about too many aircraft, intersecting runways, and not enough space. A change in procedure is perhaps appropriate, but how does a change of RT possibly help? There is absolutely no confusion as to what is being said, the problem is with the infrastructure that's trying to accommodate it.

As for your landing clearance scenario, you do have the preceding aircraft in sight under VMC when it's issued don't you? IMC with no visual contact you'll be instructed to continue, which isn't the same as cleared to land.

26th Mar 2006, 14:22
This type of incident seems to have a theme:

Multiple departing traffic on intersecting runways, each departure runway being controlled by an ATCO on a separate frequency.

Since Logan and O'Hare have had incidents recently one would hope that procedures are under review for these kind of operations.

There is an inherent danger in this kind of airfield setup but safety need not be compromised as long as the procedures and inter-controller communication issues are adequately addressed and resolved.


26th Mar 2006, 17:42

I have some sympathy with your feelings - believe me, I do. I just have difficulty with what amounts to a broad personal attack on the individuals who are trying to make the best of an inadequate situation. It is surely the FAA who carry the responsibility and it is they who should be lobbied?

Being involvd in future UK ATC system design I can tell you we are not whiter than white ourselves. Last week I was effectively told that mitigation of a clear risk I had identified would be achieved by ATCOs not turning traffic too early in an environment that relies on tight vectoring to deliver our own overburdened capacity.

I object in the strongest possible terms to ATCOs (or Aircrew for that matter) being exposed to a compromised system's design so that other needs can be met. It is not right to put people in a position where they are not allowed to be human.


26th Mar 2006, 18:05
XL5 why issue conditional clearances, it only leads to ambiguity, which in high density environments leads to possible confusion and misinterpretation. Leaving scope for error and potential disaster, absolute clearances which due to the human element are not perfect, but surely do greatly reduce the margin for error.

The set up in the US can work well on a good day, but has very little allowance for the lowest common denominator. The below average guy on bad day, and through any number of influences we are all capable of being the below average guy.

26th Mar 2006, 23:53
Well it goes to prove that there are only a certain amount of aircraft that can fit SAFELY into a sector of airspace at one time. This system of operation leaves no room for the imminent errors!!!!

27th Mar 2006, 03:21
:rolleyes: QAR:
I refer you to the 'Monarch Incident at Gib.' thread plus many others on French ATC, the last major mid-air (or ground) collisions being in Europe (DHL, SAS, CDG Shorts360), etc.

Enjoy your high horse.

You have to be joking, right?

BTW, I'm a Brit, and I've never, ever, had a problem over here. It's no better or worse than anywhere else, but if you're of the pre-disposed mindset 'everything the yanks do is cr@p' then there's no persuading you.

Ignition Override
27th Mar 2006, 06:00
Armpit has some valid points about ATC here, but I have not flown often enough to other countries to begin to compare and evaluate, except to Canada at times, and find the ATC excellent.
It might be that the pressure for productivity/flow control requires controllers to often barely state or smear the name in the callsign, i.e. "----east 929 turn 15 degrees right." "----east 529 descend/maintain FL 230". Before we can acknowledge, partly due to controllers using two or three different frequencies, another pilot transmits and blocks the reply.
But on the otherhand, we have one airplane to manage, and they have several at one time. Their ability to coordinate the three and four-dimensional changing puzzle (in good weather-how about in bad?) amazes me.

27th Mar 2006, 11:00
RRAAMJET, those incidents you quote included a mix of at least 2 languages. The system in force in europe would be better if the europeans(ok, French and Spanish) stuck to ICAO procedures and communicated in English allowing all on frequency to build a mental picture of the events occuring around them.

Considering the number of people who ae actually operating in a second language is proof of how well it can work. In the USA the majority of guys are operating in their first language and still get into all sorts of a pickle.

No high horse only a justified sense of superiority provided by the consumate profressionals who manage our airspace.

27th Mar 2006, 11:50

Lets not let the thread descend into the Brits vs Yanks or vice versa. Have a bit of Cop On. This Airspace is Ultra Busy and European Airspace will become a lot busier too. We need construct comment and ideas, not a childish slagging match.


27th Mar 2006, 14:10
"...the majority of guys...still get into a pickle." Hmmmm....perhaps a little exaggerated, methinks, or is it just your crew that gets into a pickle 'the majority' of the time?

Ultimately, the success/failure of any ATC system is measurable by movements per hour/ corpses and wreckage. In this dynamic, your consumately perfect linguists in Europe are trailing over the last decade. It's one thing to use perfect ICAO radio procedures, but if it still doesn't prevent the mating of two aircraft then ultimately it's a failure. Simple as that.

I'm beginning to think your exposure to US ATC is rather limited. Perhaps you should experience a tornadic supercell event during rush-hour at DFW (6000 movements per day through Fort Worth airspace) and see how well they handle literally hundreds of holds and diversions in a very short space of time utilizing perhaps only one or two of their normal gateposts. And no bent metal...;)

27th Mar 2006, 20:30
In the USA the majority of guys are operating in their first language and still get into all sorts of a pickle.

False statement I'm afraid because actually, no they don't. The system is under stress because of inherent structural limitations, the only way to get it sorted is by curtailing the simultaneous use of intersecting runways - which would of course drastically reduce the number of movements, especially at peak times. It's a safety/commerce equation which doesn't include adopting the banter of little britain as a solution set.

27th Mar 2006, 21:14
"A Delta Connection regional jet also taxied onto intersecting Runway 9 Left while it waited for a plane to depart.
A controller--who is new to O'Hare and was being trained by a veteran controller--then cleared the Lufthansa plane to take off, the FAA said."
Speaking as someone who used to operate out of O'hare on a daily basis. If the pilots would have just turned their heads before they started to roll, they could have seen the other was moving and stopped well clear of the intersection. Especially the Delta Connection jet, who would have had the Airbus in their sight just off to the right. Often O'hare controllers clear a/c holding on 9L for take off with the anticipation of the a/c on 4L to clear during their roll. This airport requires the pilots to have a little initiative and help with the daily flow of things. I remember taxing from 22L after landing all the way to the gate on a busy day without talking to a single person (expect ramp control). All because the radio was so cluttered with chatter that one could not get a word in edge wise. Not that I am condoning this behavior but at O'hare if you don't keep moving you get yelled at.

28th Mar 2006, 01:38
[B] Not that I am condoning this behavior but at O'hare if you don't keep moving you get yelled at.

Some of the finest controllers in the world are at ORD...they make the best of a tough situation. Good job by the LH/Privatair crew, though.

Improvements need to be made, but look at how long it's taken for a new runway thanks to NIMBY opposition...don't even get me started on LAX...


Spamcan defender
28th Mar 2006, 09:05
I seem to remember a few years ago when I was doing the UK aerodrome course watching a TV prog about US airports. Can't remember the exact airport but they were using this 'anticipated separation' of departing a/c on cross runways. Scared the s:mad: :mad: t out of me !! If I remember correctly, in the UK, the first departing a/c must have crossed the intersection before any subsequent a/c on perpendicular runway can be cleared for T/O. I appreciate that traffic levels may be high at places like O'Hare etc but surely this practice, as the first post highlights, is a tragedy just waiting to happen.
I'm a terminal controller now in London TMA and, judging by the amount of traffic on the tube going into into LHR, I have the utmost respect for the ground/air guy's and gal's at LHR and similar airports around the globe. As has been mentioned previously, you're only as good as the system and procedures you have to work within.

Just my thoughts,

28th Mar 2006, 18:16
The US airport was La Guardia. I saw the programme too. Amazing stuff.

28th Mar 2006, 20:23
There is a grand plan to reconfigure the runways at ORD, moving away from the crossing runways to 2 sets of triple parallels and two "crosswind runways". It will take many years for this to be completed. Layout avalable here (http://www.ohare.com/MasterPlan/Section%20VI%20-%20Preferred%20Development%20Plan%20-%209.pdf) (pdf format)
Remember they have almost a million movements a year, ie more than double Heathrow and so until completion full use needs to be made of all their available assets.
LGA handles over 400,000 flights a year on just 2 crossing runways. Now that is impressive.:ok:
Traffic counts 2005 (http://www.airports.org/cda/aci/display/main/aci_content.jsp?zn=aci&cp=1-5-54-57_9_2__)

28th Jun 2006, 21:13
I was on the United Express Regional next in line behind the Delta regional jet and on the correct side of the aircraft to watch the air traffic. Things were busy on that day (busier than usual at O'Hare) and the runway we were about to use (9L) was also being used for landings. The A319-ER taxiing around in the distance had a livery that I did not recognize (I later found out it was Privatair flying for Lufthansa from ORD to Dusseldorf an all business class service) so I was watching that aircraft closely.

I was in a near panic when I notice the A319 and the Delta regional both begin their takeoff roll almost simultaneously. Now, if I could see the A319, the Delta crew should have as well and agree that it probably should have been noticed sooner. Anyway, lots of speed brakes, thrust reversers and tire smoke later they were both in contol and I would dispute the 100 ft separation as being at least triple that distance. Neat nosegear contraction on the A-319. :) My belief is that the Delta crew reacted before the Privatair.....wish I was listening on the tower frequency during this one.

The aircraft then taxiied to a new position, (a little slower than usual; maybe they were a bit shaken) with the Privatair A319 now a couple of aircraft behind the aircraft I was aboard.

Arriving in Atlanta, I asked my pilot his take on the "incident" and he commented it was close (perhaps too close) and his opinion at that time was controller error.

28th Jun 2006, 23:38
Wow, actual eyewitness account! Thanks! I'm not surprised at all that the separation was a little larger than they said. You must have almost :mad: yourself though!!

Only on pprune :ok: