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#LEADERSHIP IN THE NEWS: A Close Call In Chicago

A disaster was avoided yesterday in Chicago. It seems that two aircraft were on a collision course as they were preparing to take off from Chicago Midway International Airport.

Both aircraft, Delta and Southwest heard the same take-off clearance command from the Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower.

Seeing what was transpiring on the ground the control tower called for the Delta aircraft to immediately, “Stop, Stop, Stop!” Both flights stopped some 2000 feet of the intersection where the collision would have taken place.

So how could this have happened?

The first thing that comes to everyone’s mind is the flight numbers of both aircraft: Delta was flight 1328 and Southwest had the flight number 3828. The last two digits are the same and over the radio at the very busy Chicago Midway International Airport it can happen. OK, it did happen.

Having heard ATC Tower to aircraft radio transmissions before, I have a difficult time keeping track of who and what’s what. Fortunately, I am a novice and not piloting a 75 ton aircraft with a hundred or so people on board. This is will happen again.

How can this be prevented? The answer is quite simple.

Now, at this point you are asking yourself, what does all this have to do with leadership?


Paying attention to the detail is CRITICAL! It is essential to being a success! It is mandatory when it comes to doing your job. I would say that there can be nothing less than complete attention to detail when it comes to flying an airplane or open heart surgery or filling out a tax form or anything and everything else you do in your chosen vocation and in life in general.

Had the Delta Aircraft heard the entire call sign “Southwest 3828” instead of assuming it was his turn to go based on the last two digits this post would not be written.

Should you find yourself in a situation that you are not to sure you heard what you heard ask for clarification because it is ALWAYS better to be safe than it is to be sorry.  Asking for clarification reinforces the attention to detail.