Midway to Get Close-Call Warning System by 2010

Already planned for this summer at O'Hare Airport, a new radar system aimed at preventing collisions on runways will land at Midway Airport by 2010, federal aviation officials said Thursday.

Until now, the Federal Aviation Administration has been vague about when the new equipment, known as Airport Surface Detection Equipment-X, might be deployed at Midway, which unlike O'Hare, has had relatively few close calls.

ASDE-X prevents such incidents, called runway incursions, by immediately notifying pilots and air traffic controllers of potential collisions with other aircraft and vehicles on runways and taxiways.

Last year, Midway had one incursion. O'Hare ended 2006 with 10, a trend that caused the FAA to speed up its timetable for bringing ASDE-X to the airport.

ASDE-X costs roughly $8 million to $12 million, the FAA has said.

In addition to the ground radar system, Midway is also getting beds of crushable concrete at the ends of four runways to slow planes that overshoot their landings. The arrestor beds should be fully installed by late this year.

FAA Administrator Marion Blakey also downplayed the city's cost overruns on the O'Hare expansion project, which now exceed $400 million. Blakey said costly legal challenges and delays in acquiring land are "completely outside the city's control."

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