ATC Focus Of Midair Suit

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

According to a story in the Chicago Tribune, the air traffic controller on duty at the time of a midair collision near Chicago in February of 2000 admitted in court last week he didn’t know precisely where the two crash airplanes were when he was directing them on approach to Waukegan Airport. Waukegan didn’t have radar at the time of the crash, which killed local radio celebrity Bob Collins, his passenger Herman Luscher and student pilot Sharon Hock in the other plane. Controller Gregory Fowler told the court he should have asked for more precise position reports from both pilots before clearing Collins to land behind Hock. Collins’ Moravan (Zlin) Z242 hit Hock’s Cessna 172 from behind and both aircraft crashed immediately. The victims’ families are suing the federal government, claiming the FAA is responsible for the crash even though Waukegan is a contract tower. In other testimony, Richard Burgess, a former FAA employee who was hired by Collins’ widow as an expert witness, told the court that Waukegan should have been equipped with radar. He said nearby Meigs Field had radar installed after a 1997 midair but Waukegan, which was a busier airport, did not. Radar was installed at Waukegan five months after the Collins crash. Government lawyers alleged that Collins’ flying ability was impaired by diabetes, even though a doctor who’d examined him a day before the crash found no evidence of visual or cognitive impairment. The government also suggested Burgess has a grudge against the FAA for his treatment as an employee, a suggestion Burgess denied.