Driver of pickup reported as critical, two mechanics aboard RJ minor injuries.
Federal aviation officials said it could take several weeks to determine the cause of a collision early Saturday between a taxiing airplane and a maintenance truck at O’Hare International Airport.
The United Express jet, operated by SkyWest Airlines, was moving on a closed runway from a maintenance hangar to Terminal 2 at 4:49 a.m. when it collided with a pickup truck, said Elizabeth Isham Cory, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman.
No passengers were on the plane being piloted by two maintenance workers, Cory said.
“At this point what we have is contact with a city truck. An incursion has to be investigated and determined,” Cory said. “It’s usually a loss of separation . . . between an aircraft and another aircraft that may be coming to the airport.”
Cory called collisions between aircraft and vehicles “very, very rare.” What is known, she said, is that the aircraft would have the right of way. Investigators also will determine whether runway lighting played a role.
In July, FAA officials unveiled plans to install red traffic lights on O’Hare runways and at 19 other airports to avoid runway collisions. The lights, using an array of radar sensors, were to provide the real-time location of aircraft and vehicles moving on the airfield, officials said. Cory said she was unsure if they had been activated near the crash site.
SkyWest spokeswoman Nicole Drew said investigators reviewed surveillance footage but “could not find who was responsible for the accident” because of impaired visibility.
The truck driver was treated at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge and released, officials said. The two mechanics in the plane were treated for minor injuries at Resurrection Medical Center in Chicago, police said.
Flight operations were not affected, and the runway was closed for less than two hours, officials said.