Michael Huerta Orders Security Review after Chicago Fire

Center reopens as new computer hardware arrives.

Air traffic levels were slowly returning to normal in the skies over Chicago after a fire on Friday morning at a busy Air Route Traffic Control Center put a halt to all area arrivals and departures, leading to the cancellations of more than 3,500 flights.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta has ordered a 30-day review of safety and security at ATC facilities after a contract worker allegedly set the blaze that knocked out the computers controllers use to route flights.

The ARTCC facility in Aurora, Illinois, was set to reopen today after new computer hardware and cables arrived yesterday, permitting more or less normal traffic flow at Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway Airports as well as a half-dozen smaller airports in the area. Controllers at adjoining center facilities handled extra traffic for the last four days as engineers began working to restore the computer system at the Chicago Center.

The fire was reportedly set by an FAA contract employee who entered the center at 5 a.m. on Friday using his keycard. He allegedly posted a suicide letter on Facebook before setting the fire using gasoline and a lighter. He was discovered with cuts on his wrists and throat before being taken by paramedics to a hospital. He has been charged with destruction of aircraft facilities.

“The FAA is committed to maintaining a safe and secure environment for its workforce and to ensuring the security of its critical facilities and equipment,” Huerta said.

Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.

We welcome your comments on flyingmag.com. In order to maintain a respectful environment, we ask that all comments be on-topic, respectful and spam-free. All comments made here are public and may be republished by Flying.


New to Flying?


Already have an account?