Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Great Chicago Fire

Yes, I'm around and I've been trying to keep up with the fire at ZAU (Chicago ARTCC). I just can't seem to get loose. It's Saturday at 5 PM and I haven't even had a nap yet. This life of retirement is tough, I'm telling you.

Seriously, I've said it all before I think. I've been gone too long to have any new relevance (I think). A new generation will learn how important it is for the system to "fail gracefully" in air traffic control. A new generation will learn how important it is to understand the fundamentals of air traffic control and the fact that a pencil and piece of paper have a reliability that can't be matched by a computer (yet).

My generation rose to the challenge. This one will too.

If you need any help, I'm here. You have my address. After the crisis is over and you decide you'd like to brush up on the basics, I can't do much better than the series I wrote for AvWeb. Yes, I wrote it for pilots but it's the short course on the fundamentals of air traffic control. If you need a glimpse into the past -- on how we survived with less technology -- you will find it there.

Be well. Do good. Remember who you're serving.

Don Brown
September 27, 2014

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said today that after learning of the extent of damage at the FAA’s radar facility in Aurora, flight delays at Chicago airports are likely to continue into the work week until new computer equipment can be installed.

Durbin, the state’s senior senator, said he spoke this morning with FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, and learned that 23 out of 29 computer racks were destroyed in the Friday morning fire that allegedly was set by contract Harris Corp. employee Brian Howard as part of a suicide attempt. Seven of the computer racks, owned by Harris, are set to be replaced today and the remainder this week, Durbin said.

“They’ve set up some alternative communication lines with other Midwestern cities and they’re going to do the real evaluation this afternoon and let the airlines know how quickly they can restore the flow” of air traffic, Durbin said of the FAA in an interview on WGN (AM-720).

Durbin said Huerta “understands the priority in getting O’Hare and Midway back into service. I hope as late as tonight or early as tomorrow morning they can give the airlines an update as to what the traffic flow is going to be during this week.”

Still, Durbin said, “I think that goes without saying there’s some limitations (on air travel) because of this damage that’s been done.”

Durbin said the FAA is “going to look into it more deeply to see if Harris knew or should have known that there was something unusual here” involving Howard and his background.

To avoid any future issues, Durbin said security failed to inspect the suitcase Howard brought into the facility, which he said held a gasoline container.

“A couple of things come to mind: First inspecting whatever the employees bring in, even if they have security clearance going in and secondly, making sure that in critical positions, like the one where he was posted, there are two people. Not one, but two people. Now I know that’s more expense, but look at the expense associated with this disaster,” he said.