INCIDENT: A320neo tries to take off on the Chicago taxiway!
The crew of an Airbus A320neo began their take-off run on a taxiway at Chicago O’Hare. They then stopped, but is it becoming a trend?
This incident occurred in the early hours of Wednesday June 1st. It was a crew of Viva Aerobus, about to start flight VB-187. It would run from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (KORD) in the United States to Mexico City International (MMMX) in Mexico. This is a daily service that normally departs from Chicago just before midnight. On this occasion, he was about half an hour late. But part of that delay was related to the incident.
The A320neo crew pushed back through gate M13 at Chicago O’Hare, exited the apron and headed for runway 22L via taxiway V. O’Hare is a fairly busy airport, with no less than eight tracks. But on this occasion, the Viva Aerobus crew had a relatively short distance to cover. The crew should have turned ninety degrees right at the end of taxiway V. Runway 22L would then be straight ahead, at a 45 degree angle to the aircraft.
The A320neo lines up on the Chicago taxiway
But the Chicago tower controller cleared the A320neo crew to line up and wait, while further down the taxiway, some distance from the runway. The controller followed this instruction with a take-off clearance. However, the Viva Aerobus crew made their 90 degree turn at the end of taxiway V, into a 180 degree turn, joining taxiway N.
Believing they were now on the ET runway with a takeoff clearance, the Viva Aerobus crew began their takeoff run. Fortunately, the controller quickly spotted what was happening and repeatedly ordered the aircraft to STOP. The Viva Aerobus crew acknowledged and pulled over very quickly.
Fortunately, this was a very low speed event. Different flight tracking sites vary in their ratings. Flightradar24 indicates that the A320 did not exceed 28 knots (ground speed) on the Chicago taxiway. Other sites show lower speeds. In any case, the Viva Aerobus crew stopped about 200 meters (660 ft) after beginning their takeoff run.
Not parallel to the track!
The A320neo crew then turned right and right again (180 degrees) back to taxiway V, departing Chicago using runway 22L, as planned. They took off just 6-7 minutes after pushing the throttles forward onto the taxiway. The flight arrived at destination without incident and on time. It is unclear at this time if there is an investigation into the incident.
We’ve recently seen taxiway takeoff rolls, which have some similarities to this one. A previous event took place in Amsterdam, while another a few months prior was in Newark. But what makes the Chicago incident more unusual is that the taxiway the A320neo crew lined up on is not parallel to the planned runway. It was about sixty degrees from their runway heading, roughly parallel to runway 28R.
Like other such occurrences, this incident occurred at night. Taxiway and runway lights, as well as ground markings and signs, will likely come under scrutiny. However, as with other such incidents, the continued flight means investigators will not have useful cockpit voice recorder (CVR) data. This has been a factor that investigators of previous incidents have highlighted.
Spyros Georgilidakis graduated in business and management. He has 14 years of experience in the hospitality and travel industries, as well as a passion for all things aviation and travel logistics. He is also an experienced writer and editor for online publications and a licensed professional drone pilot.