Entries in O'Hare Airport (4)


'Crossing Runways' Blamed for Pair of Near-Crashes at Chicago Airport

Comstock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- Air traffic controllers at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport put passenger planes on course for mid-air crashes twice last year, with disaster only averted by the pilots' actions, according to newly released interviews from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB said the first close call came on May 16, 2011, when a SkyWest Airlines flight from Michigan was on "a collision course" with an ExpressJet Airlines flight that was taking off, bound for Buffalo.

Ultimately, after swift action by the pilots, the planes "passed in close proximity" to one another.

According to Federal Aviation Administration radar, the SkyWest flight was "about 275 feet above and 480 feet behind" the Buffalo flight.

"After I was able to gain a little composure back after nearly being killed, I keyed up the mike and yelled to the tower controller, 'What the [expletive] was that?' I got no response," the captain of the ExpressJet flight said in a statement.

Only months later a second incident -- the same situation, on the same runways -- occurred when on Aug. 8, 2011, there was a "near mid air collision" involving a Chautauqua Airlines flight from Wisconsin to O'Hare that passed in close proximity to a Trans State Airlines plane leaving for Moline, Ill.

The Chautauqua flight was only "125 feet above and 350 feet in front of" the Trans State plane.

To date the NTSB has not reached any conclusions on what caused these two close calls. The FAA has stated that it has taken corrective action.

Now a Virtual Intersection Warning goes off and the controllers responsible for the two troublesome runways at O'Hare, the country's second-largest airport, sit right next to each other to eliminate confusion.

One of the problems, according to DePaul University professor Joseph Schwieterman, a transportation expert, is that O'Hare is an "older airport with crossing patterns" that make it "an incredibly, busy, difficult place."

"You have crossing runways, you have congestion," he warned in an interview with ABC News. "You really need a perfect air traffic control environment to minimize those risks. Little slip-ups like we saw here in the last couple of years lead to big risks and I think that's been a wake-up call.

"I think what the public and the NTSB are looking at here is that it took overt pilot action to avoid an error," he noted. "That suggests that in some ways, we got lucky. That's clearly cause for concern."

In 2011, there were a total of seven serious near-collisions nationwide, relatively unchanged from the year before.

The FAA, through a spokesman, cited that 99.99 percent of airline operations went off without a hitch. Pilots and passengers, however, may wish that that number were even higher.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Winter Weather Advisory Issued in Several States

Comstock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory to several states in the Midwest and Pacific Northwest for Saturday and Sunday.

Washington, Oregon and Kentucky are among the states where cold temperatures and snowfalls are expected on Saturday.

After a fairly mild winter across the country, January brought winter weather to some states including Chicago which received about 8 inches of snow on Thursday night resulting in the cancellation of over 400 flights at O'Hare Airport due to the weather.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Explosion at O'Hare Airport in Chicago

Tim Boyle/Bloomberg via Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- A checked bag that exploded at Chicago's O'Hare airport Tuesday contained a battery, according to initial reports, and officials do not see a connection to terror.

A baggage handler suffered minor injuries after a bag coming off a plane at Gate C16 at the United Airlines terminal exploded. Officials found the passenger who had checked the bag and questioned him. According to law enforcement officials, initial reports indicate that one of 12 bags that the passenger checked contained a battery. When a baggage handler moved the bag, the contents exploded, injuring his arm.

"We believe that a battery being shipped in a container exploded while being handled by a United employee," said the Chicago Fire Department in a statement. "This is believed to be an accidental discharge. No criminal activity is suspected at this time." The statement also said that the Chicago Fire Department and Chicago Police Department are inspecting another container.

The Chicago Police Department has set up a perimeter and bomb dogs are on the scene.

"TSA is aware of a suspicious item in a checked bag in the C concourse of Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)," said the Transportation Security Administration in a statement. "Local authorities and the FBI are on scene. The owner of the bag has been identified and is being interviewed by law enforcement. To ensure the safety of those in the area, a perimeter has been established while local authorities investigate."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Close Call in Chicago Follows VP Joe Biden's Arrival at O'Hare Airport

John Foxx/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A pair of planes came too close for comfort at Chicago's O'Hare Airport this week just minutes after another plane carrying Vice President Joe Biden landed safely at the same airport.

About eight minutes after Biden's flight landed at 9:28 a.m. Monday, a departing plane and an arriving plane came dangerously close to each other at 9:36 a.m.

The two planes may have passed within 300 feet apart vertically and about 400 feet apart horizontally, aviation sources told ABC News, citing preliminary calculations that were subject to change.

"A Jetlink flight was cleared to takeoff from O'Hare Airport's runway 32L while a Skywest flight was descending to land on runway 9R," the FAA said in a written statement. "As the Skywest aircraft was coming in, a controller instructed the Skywest flight to perform a go-around procedure. The Skywest plane passed behind and above the departing Jetlink flight. The FAA will review the event to see if any additional training or procedural changes might be necessary."

The departing pilot -- carrying a full load of 50 passengers -- saw the arriving flight overhead and decided to delay the plane's pull-up until it was further down the runway, according to aviation sources, ultimately taking off at around 9:37 a.m.

By that time, the overhead plane, a United Express SkyWest flight with 29 people aboard, already had been told to circle the airport to delay its landing, sources said. It ultimately landed at 9:52 a.m.

The FAA said Biden's plane or the logistics of its arrival had no role in the close call. They added that Biden was never in danger.

The Chicago Tribune reported that an automated spacing-detection monitor in the control tower sounded an alert that the two planes had violated separation standards. The FAA has not yet confirmed that report to

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio