According to a story from today’s Chicago Tribune, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a “letter of correction” warning notice to the City of Chicago for several “major” safety violations at O’Hare International Airport, which are known to cause serious airplane accidents and crashes — during both takeoffs and landings. These findings show that the City of Chicago must make immediate, substantial changes at O’Hare to ensure the safety of airplane travelers, and to prevent unnecessary catastrophic airplane accidents at O’Hare. To speak with a top Chicago personal injury lawyer regarding an airplane accident or transportation-related accident, call Passen & Powell at (312) 527-4500 for a free consultation.
The FAA’s “letter of correction” to the City of Chicago was the result of routine inspections last month by the FAA at O’Hare, in which inspectors found violations ranging from rocks and construction debris on runways to excessive amounts of tall grass and weeds that attract birds and other wildlife. Both of these violations are major safety hazards for airplanes and passengers.
Indeed, mid-air or runway collisions between planes and birds are a severe safety threat at airports like O’Hare that are surrounded by forest and water sources. This threat recently came to the forefront at New York’s LaGuardia Airport where a US Airways plane made a crash landing into the Hudson River after geese flew into its engines. Thankfully, no one was killed in that crash due to the miraculous landing by the pilot.
Nonetheless, the need to control the bird populations near airports is critical for airplane safety. The FAA found that O’Hare was not in compliance with the 6-inch grass height requirement, as well as the federal requirements regarding vegetation on the airfield, all of which attracts wildlife. According to the FAA’s written report, all paved surfaces, including runways, should be free of any vegetation.
Furthermore, the FAA found rocks, garbage and other debris used during construction on runways and taxiways at O’Hare. This was a clear violation of FAA regulations because even a small stone on the runway can get sucked into an airplane’s jet turbines or pierce a fuel tank and spark an explosion. Similar debris was also found in the “safety areas” at the ends of the runway, which also violates FAA rules because those areas are used in emergencies when planes overrun the runway during landing or abort a takeoff and require additional runway to stop safely.
The FAA also found that the City of Chicago’s Department of Aviation engaged in a “pattern of false statements” in its self-inspection program. According to the FAA, the daily self-inspection records “do not reflect actual conditions in the field” because there were no violations reported in those records, contrary to the FAA’s inspection. The FAA additionally cited the City of Chicago for inadequate and incomplete training of O’Hare personnel working on the airfield and maintaining records.
According to a spokesman for the Chicago Department of Aviation, most of the violations cited by the FAA have already been corrected, and the remainder will be resolved shortly. Hopefully, no one is seriously injured or killed in a plane accident in the meantime. For a free consultation with a top-rated Chicago injury and accident lawyer, call Passen & Powell at (312) 527-4500.