NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Air travel through Chicago and around the country was still impacted Monday, three days after the suicide attempt that sparked a fire at a Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control center in the western Chicago suburb of Aurora.
As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, air traffic may not return to normal for another 14 days.
Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration has called for an FAA protocol review in the wake of the fire.
Arrival and departure boards at LaGuardia Airport on Monday showed signs of recovery. Most flights to and from Chicago were on time, with only a handful of cancellations.
Some passengers from O’Hare International Airport were relieved to have dodged the worst.
“Delayed 20, 30 minutes, maybe; it wasn’t too bad at all,” said Matthew Filter of Chicago.
But the system was still limping back Monday, more than three days after the fire at the Aurora FAA facility shut down flights into and out of O’Hare and Midway International airports.
As of Monday, O’Hare was only 60 percent back up and running, and Midway was 75 percent.
The FAA said the goal is to fix most of the equipment at the Aurora facility by late this week or early next week, but it won’t be back to full service until Oct. 13, CBS Chicago reported.
The head of the FAA Monday also ordered a review of security protocol, after disgruntled employee Brian Howard set a fire that crippled air travel for days. Howard was ordered held without bond on Monday.
“I want to make sure we have all the tools in place to get our airspace back up and running as quickly as possible,” said FAA administrator Michael Huerta. “I’ve asked the team to think as creatively as possible, and to make recommendations to me about our preparedness going forward.”
The FAA chief said contingency plans worked in part. Airplanes in the air at the time of the fire at the Aurora facility landed safely.
But more than 2,000 flights were canceled, and travelers now wonder how the shutdown of one radar center can disrupt air traffic nationwide.
“Nowadays, you’d think they would have a contingency plan,” said traveler Todd Youmans.
“To hear that one guy who was disgruntled – yeah, it’s pretty shocking,” said traveler Stephen Forbes.
“They keep assuring us that there are all these clearances, yet it’s not working,” said traveler Beverly Muzilla.
The FAA review of backup protocol will take 30 days, and its chief administrator said if they agency needs to make changes, it will not hesitate to do so.
There are 22 FAA radar centers nationwide like the one in Aurora, Illinois, all of which handle high-altitude air traffic. The one in the Tri-State area is located in Suffolk County.
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