NTSB Identification: CHI95IA095.
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Scheduled 14 CFR BRITISH AIRWAYS
Incident occurred Saturday, February 25, 1995 in CHICAGO, IL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/17/1997
Aircraft: BOEING 747-136, registration: GAWNM
Injuries: 357 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various sources and may not have traveled in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft incident report.

BRITISH AIRWAYS (BA) FLIGHT 296 WAS CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF ON RUNWAY 32R WITH A RIGHT TURN TO A HEADING OF 070 DEGREES. UNITED AIRLINES (UA) FLIGHT 243 WAS CLEARED FOR TAKEOFF ON RUNWAY 4L WITH A LEFT TURN TO A HEADING OF 320 DEGREES, 49 SECONDS LATER. THE NORTH LOCAL CONTROLLER AT THE CHICAGO O'HARE AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL TOWER (ATCT) ISSUED SEVERAL HEADING AND ALTITUDE CHANGES TO UA FLIGHT 243 UNTIL THE COURSES OF THE TWO AIRPLANES DIVERGED. THE MINIMUM LATERAL SEPARATION REQUIRED BETWEEN TWO HEAVY AIRPLANES IN THE CHICAGO TERMINAL AREA IS FOUR MILES. THE PILOT OF UA FLIGHT 243 ESTIMATED THE MINIMUM SEPARATION BETWEEN THE TWO AIRPLANES WAS 300 FEET VERTICALLY AND ONE MILE HORIZONTALLY. THE ATCT WAS STAFFED WITH TWO LOCAL CONTROLLERS, A RELIEVING NORTH LOCAL CONTROLLER, A LOCAL CONTROL MONITOR, AN AREA SUPERVISOR, AND AN AREA MANAGER. THE TRAFFIC WAS DESCRIBED AS 'FAIRLY BUSY' AND THE CONFIGURATION AS 'COMPLEX' BUT NOT ABNORMAL FOR THE O'HARE ATCT.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this incident to be:

the North Local Controller's failure to issue a clearance which would ensure separation between the two airplanes and the North Local Control Monitor's failure to adequately back up the controller. Factors were the complexity of the airport operations and task overload of the North Local Controller.

Full narrative available

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