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October 29, 2010

Midway Airport Tour

midway

Midway Airport, on the Southwest side of Chicago, was the busiest airport in the world during the 1940′s and 1950′s. The advent of the jet age and the longer runways required by the first generation of these aircraft doomed Midway, which was tucked into a dense residential area with no room for expansion. By the start of the 1970′s, newer technology engines and smaller commercial aircraft serving relatively closer destinations had started a rebound of traffic at Midway, in part in an effort to alleviate the congestion at O’Hare, which inherited Midway’s former status of World’s Busiest Airport. In the 1990′s Southwest Airlines established a strong presence at Midway, and today 85% of the commercial aircraft operations at the airport are Southwest flights. Midway has about one-quarter of the number of daily flights as O’Hare and one-quarter the annual passenger load. This provides a substantial relief for congestion at O’Hare and a calmer, less chaotic environment at Midway. A completely new terminal was built, opening in 2001 and providing a first class facility. Current generation of jet aircraft are capable of serving any destination in the Continental US nonstop from Midway.

Topics discussed:

  • Items related to airport capacity
  • Terminal design
  • Aircraft ramp and taxiway/runway design
  • Aircraft turnaround procedures (loading/unloading, refueling, other servicing, etc)
  • Airfield operational considerations (parallel approaches, instrument approaches, deconfliction with O’Hare traffic, etc)
  • Limitations under various weather conditions
  • Airfield safety design
  • Runway overrun arrestor system
  • Air Traffic Control Improvements
  • Elimination of dependence on radar
  • Elimination to following published airways and approaches

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