Southwest 737 and Learjet in Close Call at Midway

A Southwest 737 at Chicago Midway

NTSB investigators are looking into a near collision between a Southwest Boeing 737 and a Learjet 45 that took place at Chicago Midway International Airport last month.

According to investigators, the Dec. 1 incident occurred when the 737 landed on Runway 31 Center and began to taxi across Runway 31 Right, as instructed by air traffic control. Just as the Southwest jet crossed the 31R hold short line, the first officer spotted the approaching Learjet departing on 31R and called for the captain to stop the aircraft.

The Learjet, which had been cleared by another controller for takeoff on the runway, reportedly passed the Southwest jet with just 62 feet of vertical separation. NTSB officials say that air traffic control did not intervene to cancel either the Learjet’s or the 737’s clearance.

“What technology clears us on the runway when there’s a plane taking off?” one of the Southwest pilot’s asked air traffic controllers directly after the incident. While the Southwest pilot alleged the Learjet passed directly over the 737, investigators say the two aircraft maintained 287 feet of horizontal separation at their closest distance.


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