Is 325 Feet a Close Call?

July 24, 2008

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The Federal Aviation Administration says Chicago's O'Hare Airport hasn't had a near midair collision since July 2006. And it isn't counting Monday's averted airplane collision.

The FAA defines a near midair collision as two aircrafts that fly within 500 feet or less of each other, or if a pilot reports a collision hazard existed. Monday's 325 foot near miss at O'Hare was not counted by the FAA because it was not reported by a pilot. Retired O'Hare air traffic controller Bob Richards says the incident was a close call.

RICHARDS: It's a gray. But the bottom line is that the technique was horrible. If the controller knew what was going on, he would've never rolled that guy at the time that he rolled him. And they wouldn't have been that close.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident as a near midair collision. The FAA is conducting a separate investigation on what it says could be an operational error.