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Chicago Center Reopens; Controllers Kept System Up and Running During Unprecedented 17-Day Outage – (10/13/2014)

CONTACT: Doug Church, 301-346-8245

WASHINGTON – Chicago Center resumed air traffic operations at 12:40 a.m. CDT this morning, completing a 17-day period in which air traffic controllers and all FAA safety and technical employees went above and beyond the call of duty in unprecedented circumstances to keep the surrounding air space operational, safe and efficient.

“This is a testament to not only the air traffic controllers, Tech Ops personnel and management at Chicago Center, but also the same dedicated professionals in all facilities throughout the Midwest and National Airspace System,” Chicago Center NATCA Facility Representative Toby Hauck said. “I am very proud to be an air traffic controller, a NATCA member and a NATCA Facility Representative. Once again, we have proven why we are the safest, busiest, and most efficient system in the world.”

During the outage, controllers from two dozen FAA facilities around the Midwest, and also the FAA Command Center, worked together to keep the flying public safe and the system operating at close to capacity. On several different days during the 17-day outage, including a consecutive string last week, Chicago O’Hare was the nation’s busiest airport.

“We’ve often said air traffic control is a team sport. Today I could not be more proud of the teamwork that was demonstrated at every facility that was called upon to step up, meet a very difficult challenge, and get the work done safely and with mastery of their profession,” NATCA President Paul Rinaldi said. “NATCA members once again showed their supreme level of professionalism and dedication to safety. I would also like to congratulate the FAA and Administrator Michael Huerta for their leadership and resolve to successfully and safely reopen Chicago Center in a timely way.”

Nearly 200 of Chicago Center’s employees traveled to other FAA air traffic facilities to continue working during the outage. Their arrival was greeted with a spirit of friendship and teamwork, and a shared determination to put their talents together to implement a plan of action to overcome the damage and keep the system running safely.

“While we are happy to see those employees return home to their families and their facility, we will forever remember this period of time as one of the greatest stories of success in our beloved profession of air traffic control,” NATCA Executive Vice President Trish Gilbert said. “It is also a wonderful example of collaboration between NATCA and the FAA. We worked together at all levels and kept our system running safely and efficiently.”

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