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Planes Avoid Midair Collision

The New York Times reports that two airliners almost collided 25,000 feet about Indiana Tuesday night.

A United Express and a Midwest Airlines plan came within 600 vertical feet of each other. The safety limit is 1,000 feet. They were able to avoid catastrophe due to an onboard collision alert system that alerted the pilots of both planes to separate further.

The near collision was the result of the third error in about six weeks from a radar control center in Illinois. Which has many questioning how safe the crowed Chicago airspace is.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating, classifies errors at radar control centers on an A-through-D scale, with A the most serious. The error Tuesday was classified a B, the third B-grade mistake since Oct. 1 at the Chicago Center, one of about 20 regional traffic control centers around the country. ( New York Times)

“Part of our review is to determine how and why this happened,? said an F.A.A spokeswoman, Elizabeth Isham Cory, “to find ways of preventing it from happening again.? ( New York Times)

The maneuver was so smooth, according to Midwest spokeswoman Carol Skornicka, that passengers and the flight attendant didn't notice. She said it was "too close for comfort" but added that the chance of a collision was "very remote." (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel )