FAA Administrator to Visit Aurora Air Traffic Facility

[CHICAGO] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representative Bill Foster (D-IL-11) today announced that the Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Michael Huerta, will visit the damaged Aurora FAA facility and meet with members of the Congressional Delegation on the afternoon of Friday, October 3. The visit comes after a fire was set at the Aurora air traffic control facility last week that resulted in a massive air traffic shutdown across the county. Huerta will meet with Durbin and Foster and other members of the Delegation, provide an update on the recovery process and tour the damaged area of the facility. The meeting and tour will be closed to press, but there will be media availability at the conclusion of the visit.

“I am pleased that Administrator Huerta is coming to Aurora to visit the facility in person. I know he and his team are working around the clock to restore full service at the Aurora facility and get the nation’s air traffic system back on track. I’m concerned that one week following the attack on the computer network, the nation’s busiest air hub is still facing significant delays and cancellations. We need to get the system back up and running and then take a hard look at the weaknesses in the system that failed to prevent this incident. Not only was air traffic severely disrupted, but the safety of workers at Chicago area facilities and passengers flying to and from Chicago was jeopardized. I’ve encouraged Administrator Huerta to ensure FAA has adequate protocols, emergency plans, and security measures in place to help prevent and mitigate the impact of any future emergencies to help ensure that we never find ourselves in this situation again,” Durbin said.

"Looking forward, I expect that the FAA will develop plans to prevent this type of single-point failure from endangering our air traffic and our economy. This will be especially important over the next few years during the transition to the NextGen air traffic control system," Foster said.

On Monday, Durbin, Foster and other members of the Illinois congressional delegation asked the Department of Transportation Inspector General to conduct an immediate investigation into the FAA’s emergency protocol and mitigation measures at Chicago air traffic control facilities. The incident is the second since May that a fire at a Chicago air traffic control center resulted in delays and cancellations of hundreds of flights in and out of O’Hare and Midway international airports.

The FAA estimates that full service will be restored at the Aurora facility by October 13. On Monday, Huerta announced the agency will conduct a 30-day review of the Aurora incident, focusing on security and emergency response times.