GENTLEMEN.. WHY DO WE WANT TO MAKE THINGS DIFFICULT...???
DO WE CROSS A BUSY STREET OR TRAIN CROSSINGS OR WHATEVER WITHOUT KEEPING
TO THE SIMPLE BASICS OFLOOK LEFT LOOK RIGHT.....NO MATTER WHAT THE CLEARANCE..!!
The two most important words in the article: "spotted" and "called". We, as pilots, are still ulitimately in charge. The people in the tower aren't the ones that would be splattered all over the runway. "Clearance" does not mean blind compliance.
I was the first officer in this situation. Runway 31C at MDW has a high-speed exit (taxiway B), which puts you blind to 31R initially. When we were cleared to cross 31R, which is very close laterally to 31C, we had to make a hard right turn onto Taxiway N, which now gives you a glimpse of 31R just before you are at the hold short line to 31R. I heard the clearance to cross, but remained heads-up the entire time, and didn't just rely on technology or the controller's eyes. By the time I could even see the Lear approaching, we had crossed the hold-short line, but, contrary to the article, were not on the actual surface of 31R, albeit very close. What the article also got wrong, which was due to the NTSB transcriptionist misinterpretation of the audio tapes, was that I asked the tower controller to acknowledge that he had just cleared us to cross a runway that had and aircraft taking off. I wanted to make sure he was aware of what just took place (or almost took place.) He then sent us to ground control. What I did not say is the statement was "What technology clears us for takeoff..." Listening to the audio, and given my accelerated rate of speech, it sounds a little like what the media and NTSB reported, but if you listen again, knowing what I just wrote, you can hear me asking tower to "acknowledge" which does sound a little like "technology" over the radio. But rest assured, I was not having a debate with the controller, since I knew he and I still had jobs to do. When we called the tower supervisor on the phone, he freely admitted his controller made a HUGE mistake, and he thanked me for being heads up. So if any0ne still thinks we were "blindly" crossing the runway, I hope this clears things up a little. BTW, not a single chief pilot, investigator, fellow SWA pilot, or anyone else who has flown into MDW that I have shared my experience with feels we could have done anything better. Fly safe!
Sounds like the runways were being controlled on different frequencies, a not uncommon situation but one that limits the respective pilots' situational awareness, removing a significant extra safety cross-check.
This was an interesting article and again highlights the need for ATC and avionic systems that satisfy the gate to gate needs of the airlines, GA pilots, airport operators and flying public. The tragedies of Tenerife, Detroit, Skywest Metro, and Los Cerritos just to name a few, highlight the need for cost effective multi-role systems that meet safety and efficiency objectives.
A system demonstrated to the FAA some "2o years ago" shows what GNSS, Datalink and the right ADS-B system can provide. The "SEAMLESS AIRPORT".
Please check out the 15 minute documentary video at: http://www.youtube.com/user/vicksburg76
The biggest single aviation technology standing in the way of the modernization of the world's aviation system is a decades old radar mentality. It's analogous to communicating with the world over a telegraph with Morse Code. It is time for the 'past to get out of the way of the future' in the United States otherwise we'll be purchasing our 21st century avionics and ATC technology from overseas.
You guys did a good job there. Press reports should always be read with caution.