Chicago Officials Propose $40M Runway Plan

CHICAGO_The city has submitted a $40 million proposal to the Federal Aviation Administration to build collapsible concrete beds at the ends of the runways at Midway Airport to prevent planes from overshooting their landings.

The plan comes four months after a Southwest Airlines flight skidded off a runway at Midway and into traffic, killing a 6-year-old boy in a car.

The 200- to 300-foot concrete beds would be made of lightweight bricks designed to collapse under the weight of an aircraft, safely slowing the plane. The FAA has approved similar systems at 14 airports, officials said.

The FAA said it is evaluating the city's proposal, submitted on Tuesday.

Midway is one of almost 300 commercial airports nationwide that do not have 1,000-foot safety zones at the ends of its runways. The city told federal officials in 2004 that the such zones cannot be built at Midway because the airport is hemmed in by homes and businesses.

Congress has passed a law that would force all airports to build such zones or install alternatives such as collapsible "aircraft-arrester beds" by 2015.

"We believe we can solve this safety issue within the confines of the airport using the aircraft-arrester beds," said Erin O'Donnell, managing deputy aviation commissioner at Midway. "No additional land needs to be acquired."