'Ghost planes' display aid at O'Hare helping safety, capacity problems

"Ghost" images of planes landing at O'Hare International Airport are helping air-traffic controllers safely stagger jets on converging flight paths in the crowded airspace near the airfield, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The ghost planes are also helping restore some of the efficiency that was lost last year when safeguards were introduced at O'Hare to reduce the chance for a collision on converging flight paths, officials said.

The potentially deadly traffic intersection in the sky is less than 1 mile from the ends of two runways — one for arrivals, the other for departures. Last year, the FAA prohibited the specific runway combination during the busiest daytime hours, when planes are taking off or landing roughly every 20 seconds, until a better plan came along.

The two runways themselves do not physically intersect, but planes could cross flight paths under one scenario:

A plane cleared by O'Hare tower for takeoff on diagonal runway 32 Left, which points to the northwest, could fly too close to or even hit or be struck by a plane landing toward the west on east-west runway 27 Right if, instead of completing the landing, the pilot of the plane needed to execute an unplanned go-around procedure. Read the entire story in the Chicago Tribune.