Airport Operations

With nearly 3,000 flights daily, the CDA works with a number of agencies to ensure safe and efficient operations at both O’Hare and Midway. This long list of partners includes: airlines, the FAA, air traffic control (ATC), local and federal law enforcement, as well as all tenants and staff.

Chicago's airports have an outstanding record for safety and continually receive high marks by the FAA for meeting safety guidelines and standards. O’Hare and Midway continue to not only meet, but exceed the requirements of the FAA’s annual airport compliance certification under 14 CFR Part 139, Certification of Airports

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This annual certification testing conducted by the FAA closely examines an airport's compliance with regulations for airfield operations including pavement, signage, lighting, markings, inspection reports, fueling operations and emergency response and preparedness.


A runway incursion is an incident where an unauthorized aircraft, vehicle or person is on a runway. This adversely affects runway safety, as it creates the risk that an airplane taking off or landing will collide with the object. The CDA and FAA take runway incursions very seriously and continuously work to avoid instances. All occurrences are tracked and reported. The CDA has been technology and improvements to the airfield to avoid or minimize the likelihood of runway occurrences.


With hundreds of thousands of passengers traveling Chicago’s airports each winter season, the City of Chicago team is prepared to run safe and efficient operations no matter what Mother Nature throws their way. Teams of more than 600 city workers, and over 300 plows and other pieces of equipment operate to keep both the runways and the roadways clear and open in any event. They are responsible for maintaining the safety of 80 miles of pavement at O’Hare and 8 miles at Midway. The CDA’s snow crews train all year long for winter weather operations. Across O’Hare and Midway, more than 600 city staff are dedicated to snow operations alone, with hundreds more from the airlines, contractors and other airport teams working alongside one another to fight snow and ice, keeping passengers safe.


The FAA has regulated the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS/Drone) and the Chicago Department of Aviation as the operator of both Midway International and O’Hare International Airports has a role to play.

The FAA utilizes Rules 14 CFR Part 101 and Part 107 to govern the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

·         14 CFR Part 101 pertains to UAS/Drones that weigh between .55 to 55 pounds and are operated for hobby or recreational purposes only. Under this rule the operator of the drone is required to provide the airport operator and the Air Traffic Control Tower with prior notice if they intend to operate with in a 5 mile radius of the airport.

·         14 CFR Part 107: The Small UAS Rule pertains to Commercial and Other Non-Model Aircraft UAS Operations. The weight considerations are the same as Part 101 but there are additional regulatory requirements that must be met by the operator and permissions granted by the FAA Air Traffic Control Organization if the UAS/Drone is going to operate in a controlled airspace.

All calls pertaining to Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS/Drone) should be funneled to the following CDA representatives for follow up.

Midway Airfield Airport – 773-838-0677

O’Hare Airport / Airfield Operation–773-686-2255

You can go to for additional information if you would like to further educate yourself on this topic.


The CDA and its contractors have active participation with its airline partners and FAA to identify changes on the airfield and areas where improvement is needed. The CDA conducts regular meetings with the airfield construction managers to identify airfield construction projects and their impact on the airfield operations. The CDA also meets with FAA – Air Traffic to discuss airfield movements and areas of concern. The CDA has an active Pilot Awareness Campaign that provides outreach to all airline partners. .


Chicago’s airports are well-equipped to provide a safe and efficient experience to the traveling public.

The CDA works closely with its partners at the FAA to ensure every airport employee that drives on the Airport Operations Area (AOA) receives specialized training as required by FAA Part 139 regulations. Driver safety training is offered for all airline, vendor and governmental agencies that drive on the airfield at O’Hare and Midway, and includes rigorous classroom and field training. Training is updated regularly to ensure drivers are up to date on current standards. Depending on their job duties, drivers are retrained each year. In addition to a robust training program, to increase awareness and remind staff about the seriousness of the issue, CDA posts frequent signage in buildings and vehicles to remind people about being mindful on the airfield and communicating with air traffic control towers. To schedule driver safety training, please contact (NUMBER) for O’Hare; and (NUMBER) for Midway.

Through the FAA’s dedicated runway safety office, the agency works with CDA and commercial aviation and general aviation partners to ensure safe conditions for every flight operation. The CDA has taken action to both elevate airport-wide awareness of airfield safety into daily operations, and strengthen disciplinary actions within our organization when an incursion occurs. To prevent an incursion or surface incident, CDA encourages airfield staff to stay in close communication with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) partners at all times.

To report any safety violations they see, employees as well as passengers are encouraged to report them immediately to the O’Hare Communications Center (OCC) at (773) 894-5000, and the Midway Communications Center at (NUMBER).