IG Investigation Finds Insufficient Contingency Plans & Security Protocols at Chicago Air Traffic Control Facilities

Illinois congressional delegation members requested report following 2014 fire that was deliberately set at the FAA’s Aurora, Illinois facility

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Six members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation today announced that a Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General (IG) investigation concluded that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s contingency plans and security protocols were insufficient at Chicago air traffic control facilities at the time of a September 26, 2014 fire at the Aurora facility.  The entire report can be found HERE


After reviewing the IG report U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Representatives Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Bill Foster (D-IL), Dan Lipinski (D-IL), Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said:


“Last year’s incident at the air traffic control center in Aurora exposed vulnerabilities in a system that is extremely important to our state and our nation’s economic health and security.  The fire caused over $5.3 million in damages, impacted thousands of flights across the region, and prevented the control center from controlling air traffic for more than two weeks. 


“Today’s report underscores that concerns about weaknesses in the air traffic control infrastructure and a lack of flexibility to respond to such a crisis are not unique to Chicago, but likely apply at facilities across the country.  FAA has a lot of work to do to implement the Inspector General’s recommendations. 


“We can’t expect these changes to happen overnight.  They will take adequate, long-term investment.  This week, Congress is approving another extension of the federal budget and of the FAA.  We can’t continue to lurch from one extension to the next, we must come up with a plan before the end of the year to seriously address our nation’s infrastructure needs.”


In September 2014, the group of Illinois members called for an IG investigation after the fire – the second in a year – caused the cancellation and delay of hundreds of flights in and out of Chicago’s O’Hare International and Midway International airports. Shortly after the letter was sent, several members were joined by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta on a visit to the damaged Aurora FAA facility. Huerta met with the members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation to provide an update on the recovery process and to tour the damaged area of the facility.