One Year Since the Chicago Center Fire: Teamwork, Dedication Across the Midwest
Saturday, September 26, 2015

Looking Back: One Year After the ZAU Fire

NATCA is commemorating the one year anniversary of the Sept. 26, 2014 Chicago Center (ZAU) fire with a pair of videos:

1. A video that includes the air traffic control audiotapes from Chicago Center that morning. They are edited down to pertinent, compelling highlights. Please click here.

2. A video of a panel discussion NATCA hosted at its Communicating for Safety 2015 conference. The panel includes NATCA Facility Representatives and FAA management officials from several of the affected facilities who performed so valiantly and skillfully during the ZAU outage. Please click here.

One team, one goal.

And one year later, aviation safety professionals at ZAU and nearly three dozen other facilities around the Midwest remember not what was destroyed, but what was built.  

On September 26, 2014, the one man who caused the unprecedented shutdown of ZAU by setting fire to its core communications nerve center was no match for the resolve of the team of hundreds across an entire region. A team of extraordinary professionals met the challenge by racing into action. In a spirit of true collaboration, they crafted an astonishing, 17-day story that uplifted an already proud profession and its dedicated men and women to career-defining heights.

The lasting legacy is the bond of teamwork and esprit de corps forged between air traffic controllers, engineers, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) management and other employees, systems operations and technical operations personnel, as well as workers from Harris Corporation who rebuilt the ZAU communications system – all who kept the region’s air traffic safe and, given the situation, remarkably efficient. Chicago O’Hare (ORD) even regained its title as world’s busiest airport just four days into the episode. This feat was a testament to the resolve and determination of everyone involved to minimize the disruption to air travelers as much as possible.