FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, in a speech at the Air Traffic Control Association’s (ATCA’s) 59th Annual conference this week, commended air traffic management (ATM) professionals for their hard work and Harris Corp. officials for moving to quickly replace fire-damaged equipment—all in the name of quickly and efficiently returning to normal operations. Huerta estimates that Chicago-area ATM activities will be back to normal by 13 Oct. 2014.
Mention of that date, nearly two weeks away, was met with whispers and a few quiet gasps and jaw drops among hundreds of ATM professionals in the keynote audience at ATCA’s Annual event. FAA personnel, working with Harris Corp. officials, have made a number of achievements this week that might indicate a return to normalcy sooner than originally predicted—some speculate it could be as early as next week.
“The number of arrivals and departures at O’Hare were more than 91 percent as high as the two-month average number of flights on a Tuesday at O’Hare. The FAA managed more than 85 percent of the two-month average of Tuesday traffic flying in and out of Midway. By 1 p.m. CDT Wed., arrivals and departures at the two airports were running above 85 percent of the average Wednesday air traffic over the past two months at O’Hare and above 80 percent at Midway,” an FAA spokesperson reports.
The FAA is closely monitoring weather forecasts for the Chicago area for the next several days and is working with the airlines to plan for predicted thunderstorms or severe weather in the Chicago area. The FAA manages air traffic across the country every day in a dynamic environment that balances airline scheduling with weather events and other factors to safely and efficiently move travelers to their destinations.
“FAA technicians are continuing around-the-clock work to restore telecommunications services at the Chicago En Route Center in Aurora, Ill. Workers already have installed some of the new communications equipment, but also have to lay as much as 10 miles of new cable and restore service to hundreds of electrical circuits and switches at the facility. Cleaning crews have finished restoration work on most of the undamaged equipment and are continuing to clean the ventilation system, which was contaminated by smoke,” officials say.