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Feds to probe safety at O’Hare Airport

Two federal agencies plan to investigate how planes nearly collided twice in two days on runways at Chicago's O’Hare International Airport.
FAA Approves OHare Airport Expansion
Two close calls in the past week have prompted two federal investigations into safety at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, which is shown here on Sept. 30.Tim Boyle / Getty Images file
/ Source: The Associated Press

Two federal agencies plan to investigate how commercial planes nearly collided twice in two days on runways at O’Hare International Airport.

Pilots aborted takeoffs on Tuesday and Thursday to avoid colliding with other aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration said. No one was injured.

“Both incidents look to be air traffic controller errors,” FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said Friday.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which typically responds to fatal accidents, also will investigate because the incidents were “major” enough, said spokeswoman Lauren Peduzzi.

On Tuesday, two planes were mistakenly instructed to take off at the same time on crisscrossing runways. On Thursday, one plane was sent to taxi across a runway where another plane had already started its take-off roll.

So far this year, four so-called “runway incursions,” not counting last week’s incidents, have occurred. All have been ruled controller errors.

There were seven incursions last year, out of 972,246 flights, the FAA said. Five were caused by controller errors, one by pilot error and one from an errant vehicle.