The fire Friday at an Aurora, Illinois, air traffic control center has led to hundreds of flight cancellations at Chicago’s two airports, O’Hare and Midway, over the past few days.
Things have gotten so chaotic—with long lines of passengers in both airports, missed connecting flights, and long delays—that the Federal Aviation Administration had to step up Monday and announce a 30-day review of its security protocols and contingency plans.
In a speech to the Air Traffic Control Administration, FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta offered this explanation of how one fire could cause so much difficulty:
I think the question on many people’s minds is: How could one incident have such an impact on our system? And I’d like to address that. We always have redundancy built into everything we do. We have contingency plans in place for unexpected incidents. On Friday morning we activated our contingency plan, which is why we have been able to keep air traffic moving, despite the loss of capability at Chicago center.