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On May 10, 1993, at 1011 central daylight time, a Cessna Citation 550, N41SM, registered to and operated by Meisner Aircraft, Inc., had a near mid air collision with a Piper PA-28, N9291W, while operating in the Du Page County Airport Traffic Area, West Chicago, Illinois. Neither of the two airplanes sustained damage. The two airline transport pilots and three passengers aboard N41SM were not injured, nor were the two pilots of N9291W. Both airplanes operated in visual meteorological conditions under 14 CFR Part 91.
An FAA Air Traffic Control Tower was operating at Du Page Airport at the time of the incident, and both pilots were communicating with the local controller. At 1009, N9291W was cleared for a touch and go landing on runway 15. At 1010, N41SM was cleared for takeoff on runway 10. At 1011, N41SM passed over N9291W just as N9291W was lifting off. The two airplanes crossed near the extended centerline of runway 10 and the centerline of runway 15. Vertical separation was estimated as 50 to 300 feet; lateral separation was estimated as 0 to 100 feet.
INTERVIEWS WITH PILOTS
The pilots of both airplanes were interviewed and submitted NTSB Accident/Incident Reports (attached).
The pilots of N41SM said they were given takeoff clearance from the tower controller and subsequently obtained visual contact with the touch and go Piper on runway 15 when they were approximately 1/2 to 2/3 into their takeoff roll. They were unaware of the Piper's presence until that time. They determined that the Piper might present a collision hazard, and were able to keep the Piper in sight during the remainder of the takeoff and initial climb. Their joint crew statement reads, in part: "We maintained visual contact with the traffic on runway 15 as the pilot rotated. As we rotated and climbed at V2 and runway heading, we were able to maintain visual contact with the other aircraft until well clear."
The pilot of the Piper airplane (N9291W)is a certificated flight instructor who was giving a biennial flight review to a private pilot. The instructor's statement reads, in part: "Turning left downwind to base on what I believe to be our fourth touch and go when we received clearance from tower controller for touch and go...I heard the controller give caution to a citation departing 10 (runway). I looked out my side window and there was a Citation headed towards us as we lifted off...The Citation made a correction towards the northeast momentarily then over us, which put him maybe 300' above and behind us."
Surface weather observations taken at the Du Page Tower at 0945 and 1045 were as follows: 0945; sky, clear; visibility 7 statue miles; temperature 77 degrees F; dewpoint 64 degrees F; wind, 150 degrees at eight knots. 1045; sky, clear, visibility 7 statue miles, temperature 80 degrees F; dewpoint 65 degrees F; wind, 180 degrees at 10 knots.
Du Page County Airport is a public airport owned by Du Page County and operated by the Du Page County Airport Authority. An FAA operated air traffic control tower is located between runways 15/33 and 10/28 (see attached diagram).
The Cessna Citation (N41SM) was departing runway 10/28. Runway 10/28 is 4,751 feet long and 75 feet wide. Piper N9291W was touch and go on runway 15/33. Runway 15/33 is 3,401 feet long and 100 feet wide.
At the time of the incident, there were no recorded anomalies with any of the air traffic control facilities, or any current notices to airmen pertinent to the operation of either incident airplanes on their respective runways.
The tower cab was staffed with a local controller and a ground controller. The tower manager was also in the tower cab, but was not actively involved in air traffic control or monitoring radio transmissions at the time of the incident(see attached tower cab layout for personnel positions).
The local controller's duty day began at 0540. Prior to the incident, he had worked ground and local positions. He was relieved from the local control position for a routine break at 0940, and returned to the local position at 1002 after receiving a relief briefing from the departing controller.
A transcript of the radio transmissions between the local controller and airplanes either in the airport traffic area or inbound to the airport beginning approximately five minutes before the incident, and ending approximately five minutes after the incident, is attached. The transcript indicates the controller was actively working three airplanes: the two incident airplanes, and a Cessna 152, N389GT, inbound from the west. N389GT originally reported "about ten east", which was later clarified to be west. N389GT was cleared to land on runway 10 at 1008. N9291W was cleared for a touch and go on runway 15 at 1009. The Cessna Citation, N41SM, was cleared for takeoff on runway 10 at 1010. The local controller issued the following instructions to N41SM at 1011: "Cherokee niner one...Citation one Sierra Mike start a right turn immediately Cherokee traffic ahead". The pilot of N41SM responded: "Roger we're going to have to go over him here".
The incident controller was assigned to Du Page Airport from the Chicago O'Hare Air Route Traffic Control Center December 6, 1987. He advanced to full performance level December 10, 1989. His last over-the-shoulder and tape talk performance reviews were conducted on November 22, 1992, and December 16, 1992, respectively. His last FAA Medical was September 1, 1992. He had worked the same shift the preceding week, with May 5 and 6 (wednesday and thursday) off.
Immediately following the incident, the tower chief relieved the incident controller from duty. The incident controller subsequently was granted administrative leave, and was decertified from the full performance level pending retraining.
The incident controller was interviewed by the NTSB investigator on May 11. During the interview the controller was asked how the loss of separation between the two airplanes occurred. He responded with words to the effect that he had become distracted with the inbound traffic, and that he should have issued instructions for the touch and go Cherokee to make a full stop on runway 15.