Thu, Jul 27, 2006
Ground Warning System Not Fully Active
Manpower shortages and
budget-cuts are to blame for Sunday's very close call on the runway
at Chicago's O'Hare Airport... at least, that's how the National
Air Traffic Controllers Association sees it.
Local NATCA chief Joe Bellino says there's no doubt that FAA
staffing policies were at the root of the near miss between a
United 737 and an Atlas Air 747 freighter.
Officials say the United flight had been cleared to take off on
Runway 27 Left at around 10 Sunday night. At the same time... the
Atlas 747 was cleared to cross the active.
Bellino says the controller handling both aircraft was notified
of the conflict by a colleague. He managed to get a warning out to
both crews and the 737 climbed over the 747... missing it by as
little as 200 feet.
Where was the conflict alert system in all this? Apparently not
fully functional, according to wire reports. The FAA says it was
being used for training.
Bellino says the incident came at the end of a very difficult
shift... where weather had been a problem all day long.
As with the power outage at the Palmdale ARTCC... the NTSB is
The FAA disputes Bellino's assertion that improper staffing was
the problem. The agency says there was a full compliment of
controllers and trainees on duty at the time of the near-miss.
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