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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

FAA Monitors Chicago-Area Airports Following ATC Center Fire

Juliet Van Wagenen

 ATC Towers at the Chicago O’Hare Airport
ATC Towers at the Chicago O’Hare Airport. Photo: Wikipedia

[Avionics Today 10-01-2014] Following Friday’s fire at the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZAU) in Aurora, Ill., the FAA is managing high levels of air traffic in and out of the Chicago-area airports. Authorities have confirmed an FAA contractor set the fire in the basement of the ATC center, leading to damage that caused the cancellation of more than 35,000 flights.

According to the FAA’s analysis of Tuesday’s air traffic, by 1 p.m. CDT, almost 80 percent of the average Tuesday traffic volume flying in and out of O’Hare Airport, and about 85 percent at Midway Airport. By midnight, air traffic flow at the two airports was back up to more than 85 percent of the average traffic for the past two months.

The FAA says it will continue to safely maximize efficiency of the airspace and work closely with airlines to provide predictability in arrival and departure rates. Currently, the agency is closely monitoring the weather outlook in the Chicago area and is working with the airlines on weather-related contingency plans in anticipation of predicted thunderstorms in the region over the next several days.

Meanwhile, cleaning crews and technicians are working at the regional ATC center to finish cleaning the facility’s ventilation system and other smoke-damaged areas and to install new communications equipment, cabling and the infrastructure to support it. Workers have completed a seismic protection grid in the new telecommunications room and have started to install cabinets known as “racks” that house the new equipment. Technicians will continue to install new racks as they arrive and are also working on the extensive cabling necessary to connect the new equipment with other, undamaged systems in the building. The agency expects to have the Chicago center restored to full operating status by Oct. 13.

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