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FAA orders review of safety and security

Staff writer ▼ | September 30, 2014
The head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered a 30-day review of safety and security at agency facilities.
Michael Huerta
Incident   After a contract worker set a fire
The order came after a contract worker set a fire at a regional air-traffic control center Friday that has forced the cancellation of more than 3,500 flights from the busy Chicago hub and continues to disrupt flights.

"Regardless of the extraordinary conditions we are dealing with though, I do understand the traveling public's frustrations with flight delays and cancellations," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told the Air Traffic Control Association. "I want to make sure that we have the most robust contingency plans possible."

Huerta said FAA expects the Chicago center to be fully restored by Oct. 13. The review will be coordinated with two of the workers' unions, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association and the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, to review emergency plans. The review will also cover security for FAA facilities "to make sure we have the most robust policies and practices in place."

"I want to make sure we have all the tools in place to get our airspace back up and running as quickly as possible," Huerta said. "I've asked the team to think as creatively as possible and make recommendations to me about our preparedness going forward."

On Monday, more than 400 flights had been canceled at O'Hare by 8:50 a.m. ET, according to, a flight-tracking service. That represents about 15% of the Monday schedule at O'Hare.

Huerta said the day after the fire, the FAA created direct phone lines between all four regional centers that handle flights above 18,000 feet in the air with local Chicago controllers.