Kirk to FAA Administrator Huerta: Keep Chicago’s Passengers On Time and In The Sky

U.S. Economy Lost More Than $123 Million Due to Flight Disruptions

FAA Acting on Kirk’s Request to Expedite Repairs and Investigate Security Procedures

AURORA, IL. – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) toured the Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) in Aurora with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta in order to hear directly from the FAA about their plans to repair the damage the ARTCC incurred on September 26th, and to ask specifically what the Administration is doing to ensure timely arrival and departure times for those traveling to and from Illinois.

On September 26th, contract employee Brian Howard deliberately sabotaged the ARTCC telecommunications equipment, which knocked the Aurora control center off-line and caused major disruptions to our national transportation system. More than 3,900 flights were canceled in the Chicago area, and since then passengers have continued to face countless delays and cancellations. It is estimated that $123 million in revenue has been lost due to the flight disruptions.

“We must focus on a robust continuity of operation in any type of event, purposeful or accidental,” Senator Kirk said. “Illinois passengers and travelers at the world’s busiest airport deserve better.”

Following news of the disruption and the lack of adequate security measures and back-up procedures in place at the ARTCC, Senator Kirk requested a full investigation by the FAA be completed within 30 days to prevent future attacks on our telecommunications systems and control towers. Shortly after Senator Kirk requested the investigation, Administrator Huerta confirmed that their security systems, processes and procedures would be swiftly reviewed.

In today’s meeting, Senator Kirk posed a number of questions to Administrator Huerta regarding the progress of repairs at the center and the expected date the ARTCC will be fully operational. The questions posed to Administrator Huerta are below:

  • The target date to restore the ARTCC is October 13th, but what is the FAA doing in the interim to ensure passenger safety and an on-time travel experience? Should passengers expect further delays beyond October 13th?
  • Is the FAA considering other options to mitigate travel delays and further disruptions to the system, such as moving equipment from other centers or diverting additional air traffic to other FAA air traffic control facilities?
  • I understand the FAA is working as quickly as possible to replace the damaged telecommunications network at the Chicago Center and technicians are onsite rebuilding the damaged system. Are their additional resources or personnel that FAA is considering to expedite this process?