O'Hare top priority for landing procedure test

May 19, 2000

BY ROBERT C. HERGUTH TRANSPORTATION REPORTER

The Federal Aviation Administration is making O'Hare Airport its "No. 1 priority" as the agency works toward expanding delay-reducing, but controversial, landing procedures there and across the country, government sources said Thursday.

That means FAA and Air Line Pilots Association officials will conduct special tests at O'Hare before any other airport because of its dependence on "land-and-hold-short operations" and the fear that delays will skyrocket if the operations are halted May 27.

That is the deadline set by the FAA to devise and test new safety guidelines for such procedures.

Airlines have offered to let the FAA use their flight simulators, the sources said.

Land-and-hold-short operations involve a plane landing on a runway that intersects with another runway where planes are simultaneously departing. The landing aircraft is supposed to "hold short" of the intersection.

The FAA is proposing expanding the practice to dozens more airports, and to general aviation and foreign flights at O'Hare, starting May 27.

O'Hare controllers say the testing will take too long, and they've asked that the deadline be extended. Without an extension, they predict huge delays.

The FAA is seriously considering an extension, sources said. And United Airlines Chairman and CEO James Goodwin said Thursday he believes the deadline will be extended.

Even so, the FAA expects the process to move quickly now that it can tap airline simulators instead of government computers, sources said.