177 emergency calls at O'Hare in 2006

Jan. 1, 2007 at 11:53 AM
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CHICAGO, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- The Chicago Fire Department reported 177 emergency calls were received from pilots bound for O'Hare International Airport in 2006.

The calls, which generally occurred multiple times in a single week, are usually precautionary measures that bring fire trucks and ambulances to the runway area, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Monday.

Among the incidents were blown tires, cracked windshields, lightning strikes, engine malfunctions as well as faulty indicator lights that warned pilots of nonexistent problems.

Pilots said they choose to err on the side of caution.

"Safety always comes down to prudence," said Capt. Terry McVenes, a US Airways pilot and spokesman for the Air Line Pilots Association. "It's a matter of calling the fire department when you smell smoke, instead of waiting for the house to burn down."

Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said emergency calls "happen more often than people think," but represent only a fraction of the 900,000-plus flights that arrive each year at O'Hare.

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