The NTSB has opened the public docket of another high-profile close call at a major airport, this one at Chicago’s O’Hare International (ORD) Airport. Just before noon on Aug. 8, 2011, Chautauqua Airlines ERJ-135 regional jet (Flight CHQ5021) inbound to ORD’s Runway 9 Right, passed just 125 feet above and 350 feet in front of a Trans State Airlines ERJ-145 (flight LOF3367) departing ORD’s Runway 32 Left. Reported weather included scattered clouds, good visibility and calm winds. One tower controller managed to warn both aircraft about the other at the last minute. No one was injured in the incident.
The report highlighted confusion about the location of some arriving aircraft, despite the presence of another air traffic controller in the tower cab specifically assigned the duty of watching for potential conflicts in the 9R/32L area. Investigators also listed as a contributing factor coordination about a heavy aircraft departing Runway 10 that forced controllers to scan an area of the airport away from the 9R/32L intersection.
A solution designed after the incident created a virtual intersection where the 9R/32L centerlines cross to engage the tower’s airport surface detection equipment (ASDE) radar in identifying potential conflicts in the future.