Transportation

Flights Between Hobby And Midway Halted Until 7 PM

Some flights have begun taking off and landing again.

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Both images are from FlightAware.com. The one on the right shows U.S. airspace this morning — you can see only a handful of flights over the Chicago area. Compare it to the one on the left taken at 3:20 p.m. CT. 

 

Authorities say today’s fire at an air traffic control center near Chicago was deliberately set by a contract employee — but they are ruling out any ties to terrorism.

The fire put a halt to air traffic at two of the nation’s busiest airports — Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway — for hours, and the delays and cancellations rippled through the air travel network from coast to coast. By midday, nearly 1,800 flights in and out of Chicago alone had been canceled.

Even after flights resumed, they were taking off and landing on a much reduced schedule, and there’s no word on when full service will resume.

“It has not affected us at Bush Intercontinental Airport so far. We’re keeping close eyes on the situation, and my operations people have reported so far no impact at Bush.” said Bill Begley, with the Houston Airport System.

According to Begley, all flights between Hobby and Midway have been halted until 7 p.m. That impacts five arrivals and four departures.

The early morning fire forced the evacuation of the control center in Aurora, about 40 miles from downtown Chicago. Emergency crews found the man suspected of setting the fire in the basement. Authorities say he had multiple self-inflicted knife wounds as well as burns. They say he used gasoline to help spread the fire, and that there was some damage to wiring in the building.

Investigators don’t know of a possible motive. They say the Federal Aviation Administration contractor was authorized to be there.

The impact of the fire is raising questions about whether the FAA has adequate backup plans to keep planes moving when a single facility has to shut down.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press and Houston Public Media staff).

 

Airport tweets regarding Chicago flights:

 

 

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