On July 22, 2008, at 1247 central daylight time, American Eagle flight 4298 (EGF298), N624AE, an Embraer Regional Jet 145 (E145), was departing runway 32 left (32L) when it conflicted with N252RP, a Learjet 60 (LJ60) landing runway 9 right (9R) at Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD), Chicago, Illinois. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) preliminary operational error report stated that the vertical separation between the two airplanes was approximately 200 feet. The E145 was a scheduled airline passenger flight operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121. The LJ60 was a business flight operating under 14 CFR Part 91. Both flights were operating on instrument flight rules flight plans. There were no injuries to the occupants and there was no damage to either airplane. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the incident. Use your browsers 'back' function to return to synopsisReturn to Query Page
At 1243:09, the ORD tower local control 10 (LC-10) controller instructed the E145 pilots to taxi into position and hold on runway 32L at taxiway M. The LC-10 controller issued a wake turbulence advisory to the pilots and advised them to expect about a 2 1/2 minute delay before "we can getcha rollin". About 9 seconds later, the E145 pilots acknowledged the clearance. The runway 32L/taxiway M intersection is about 8,800 feet from the runway 9R final approach path.
At 1244:57, the LJ60 pilot contacted the north local controller (NLC)and reported over the runway 9R outer marker/final approach fix, located about 4.1 nautical miles from the approach end of the runway. About 5 seconds later, the NLC cleared the LJ60 pilots to land on runway 9R and advised them to "plan a left turn on runway 32R" during their landing roll. The LJ60 pilots acknowledged the clearance.
At 1245:27, the LC-10 controller cleared the E145 for takeoff stating, "…runway 32L at [taxiway] M, cleared for takeoff, turn right heading 330 [degrees]." At the time, the LJ60 was about 2.5 miles from the runway 9R runway threshold. About 4 seconds later, the E145 pilot acknowledged the takeoff clearance. At 1245:45, EGF298 commenced its takeoff roll.
On the west side of the tower cab, the north local monitor recognized the potential conflict between the E145 and LJ60 and said, "Stay low," to the controller working the LC-10 position.
About 1246:13, when the LJ60 was about 3/4 of a mile from runway 9R, the NLC instructed the LJ60 pilots to "…go around maintain 4,000 [feet msl]." The NLC issued these specific instructions because of the E145 traffic departing runway 32L. According to the LJ60 pilot-not-flying's (PNF) statement, he observed the E145 on runway 32L and told the LJ60 pilot flying (PF) "Climb, climb, there is an MD80 on takeoff roll on 32L."
At 1246:19, the LC-10 controller advised the E145 pilots to "…stay low…stay low traffic above you." The Airport Surface Detection Equipment, Model X (ASDE-X) did not generate or display a visual or aural alert.
At 1246:26, according to radar data and ASDE-X radar replay, the LJ60 flew over runway 32L near taxiway T2. A review of the ASDE-X data radar data revealed that the closest recorded proximity occurred at this time, as the LJ60 passed with about 150 feet laterally and about 325 feet above the E145. About 13 seconds later, the NLC instructed LJ60 pilots to "Turn right heading 140 [degrees], contact Chicago departure control on 127.4." The pilots acknowledged the clearance.
At 1246:27, the LC-10 controller instructed E145 pilots to "Climb and maintain 5 [thousand feet], sorry about that." A few seconds later, the pilots acknowledge the clearance.
At 1246:43, the E145 pilots said, "…it was interesting." About 19 seconds later, the LC-10 controller instructed the E145 pilots, "Contact Chicago departure 125.4."
According to LJ60 PF's statement, "While on radar vectors for our planned arrival into ORD, we were being vectored on left traffic for runway 9R. We were given a steep decent and then a speed of 180 knots this indicated to us that we were going to be given a tight turn into final and a visual approach when we had identified the landing runway. This all happened as expected. After we gained sight of the landing runway, we were cleared for the visual approach and given speed our discretion, contact tower at LANSE intersection. At that point, I started slowing the airplane to allow the full landing configuration to be deployed. Upon crossing the final approach fix, we contacted the tower. We were cleared to land, told to roll out and turn left on runway 32 to taxi to Signature Aviation via taxiway LL. A few moments later in a calm voice, we were instructed to execute a go around and to climb to 4000 feet. At this point, the PNF identified the traffic on runway 32R and told me, "Climb, climb, there is an MD80 on takeoff roll on 32R." After the go around, we were given radar vectors for runway 4R and made an uneventful landing."
According to the LJ60 PNF's statement, "Upon initial contact with Chicago TRACON we were given our runway & approach assignments - vectors to runway 9R for a visual or ILS (Instrument Landing System). We crossed the ORD VOR [VHF Omnidirectional Range] at our assigned altitude 7,000 feet and departed heading 300 degrees for vectors. Subsequent clearances included speed reductions to 180 KIAS [knots indicated air speed], 4,000 feet, a base leg turn, another turn heading 140 degrees, instructed to report the field in sight for a visual approach, and to maintain 2,500 feet. Upon reporting the field "in sight" we were cleared for a visual approach to runway 9R & to contact the tower at or abeam LANSE with speed at our discretion. Passing LANSE on the glideslope, we contacted the tower. We were cleared to land runway 9R. A couple of brief questions concerning our runway exit point ensued and we were told to clear the runway with a left turn on Runway 32R. Final cockpit checks were completed and continued to monitor the approach. At some point, well before overflying Runway 32L, I noticed a plane rolling on runway 32L, which I expected to be a landing airplane but thought was very unusual. I've never seen anyone land on this runway - only takeoff. So I continued to monitor and noticed that the plane was indeed taking off because it wasn't decelerating. I was preparing to inform the pilot of the other plane because it was starting to rotate when the tower instructed us to execute a go-around via runway heading & to climb to 4,000 feet. I guess that our go-around was initiated from the glideslope approximately 1/4 [mile] or so prior to overflying Runway 32L. During the go-around maneuver, I advised the pilot to climb because the suspected conflicting airplane was taking off. We never received a TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) advisory - either alert or resolution during the go-around."
The E145 captain (who was the flying pilot) stated, "We were cleared for takeoff on 32L (taxiway M) heading 330. As I called gear up after rotating, I see a Learjet at 11 o'clock converging directly with our flight path. I immediately leveled the aircraft at 200 feet above the runway to avoid a collision and maintained runway heading. The tower issued an alert to level off. Two seconds later, as the Lear [jet] passed directly over our cockpit. I am estimating 600 feet separation. The controller apologized. We continued flight to Peoria (PIA), Illinois. The weather was CAVU [Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited] and the time was approximately 12:46 p.m. local (1746Z). Tower frequency was 132.7. No injuries were reported and flight attendant was informed what had occurred. I called ORD tower from PIA to find out what had happened. I spoke with the operations manager, she informed me it was a missed approach off runway 9R, and an investigation was pending. She said, "There was no paperwork I needed to do. I called my CPO [Chief Pilot's office] as well as dispatch and informed them of this event. My CPO was very knowledgeable and helpful to me and my crew."
The E145 first officer who was the pilot-not-flying stated, "Departing 32L from [taxiway] M, cleared for takeoff. Moments after rotation, tower instructed us to, "Stay low" or "Level off", unsure of exact phraseology. I am not sure if I responded on the radio or not… Simultaneously, I began looking for the reason of the request. From my vantage point, all I saw was an aircraft directly above us moving left to right at no more than 200 feet of separation vertically. The captain immediately initiated a level off at no more than 200 feet AGL until we were instructed to continue the climb. The tower apologized and continued working aircraft, handed us off to departure where the flight continued without further incident."
For the past 6 years, the ORD LC-10 controller had been appropriately certified and qualified to perform his assigned duties. He received his initial control tower operator's certificate on June 28, 1991 at Lawrence J. Timmerman Airport, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
An automated surface observation system (ASOS) provides the official weather observation at the ORD airport. The reported weather 57 minutes before the incident was:
ORD routine weather report, 1151 CDT, wind 310 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, few clouds at 2,800 feet [above ground level (AGL)], scattered clouds at 10,000 feet [AGL], temperature 26 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 18 degrees C, altimeter setting 29.93 inches of mercury.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
There was no damage reported to either aircraft.
ORD Airport information: ORD is located 14 miles northwest of Chicago, Illinois. ORD serves airline, air taxi, general aviation and military aircraft. The annual air activity averages 958,643 operations per year. The airport has 12 runways: runways 14-32L/R, 9R-27L, 10/28 and 4-22L/R. Airport elevation was 668 feet. The runways involved in the incident were runway 14R/32L, which is 13,000 feet long and 200 feet wide with a runway surface consisting of an asphalt/grooved surface in fair condition and runway 9R/27L, which is 7967 feet long and 150 feet wide with a runway surface consisting of an asphalt/grooved surface in fair condition.
ORD Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT) information: At the time of the incident, ORD ATCT was an ATC Level 12 towered airport, operational 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The ORD ATCT is 260 feet in height. It was centrally located on the airport. The LC10 position, located on the south side of the tower cab that has an external view of the runway 32L/9R intersections. The tower is equipped with digital radar and ASDE-X displays. ORD managers reported that the ASDE- X did not have crossing runway logic installed, and the ASDE-X did not alarm during the incident.