FAA Supports Hurricane Maria Relief Efforts in Puerto Rico

By Staff Writer | September 26, 2017
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ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 5, 2017) A GOES satellite image showing Hurricane Irma in the Atlantic Ocean. The storm is a category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale. Maximum sustained winds have increased to 175 mph (281 km/h) with higher gusts. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 hurricane. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles (75 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 140 miles (220 km). The estimated minimum central pressure is 937 mb (27.67 inches). (U.S. Navy photo/Released) 170905-N-N0101-001

A GOES satellite image showing Hurricane Irma in the Atlantic Ocean. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

The FAA said it is supporting more than 12 commercial passenger flights per day at Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in support of Hurricane Maria relief efforts in Puerto Rico.

According to the agency, as it restores radars, navigational aids and other equipment damaged by the storm, the number of flights is expected to continuously increase. The FAA said it has implemented a slot reservation system to manage the demand for ramp space at the airport. It can also separate aircraft in the air.

Preliminary damage assessments completed by the FAA have identified radars and navigation equipment that the FAA is now replacing. A long-range radar in the Turks and Caicos returned to service earlier this week, the FAA said, “giving air traffic controllers a much better picture of the planes and helicopters operating in the area.”

“Technicians are making their way to a second long-range radar site today at Pico del Este, which is located inside a National Park in Puerto Rico, on the top of a mountain,” the FAA said Monday. “The last two miles to the site through the rain forest are impassable, so the technicians are using chain saws to clear a path for themselves and the replacement equipment.”

Earlier this month, the FAA airlifted a mobile air traffic control tower to St. Thomas after Hurricane Irma damaged the original tower. However, the FAA removed that tower ahead of Hurricane Maria. The FAA said it has now returned the mobile tower to St. Thomas and shuttles controllers from San Juan to St. Thomas and back every day.

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