Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel blasted the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday, pounding the podium as he urged the agency "work harder and better and smarter" to restore service and wondered how one man had managed to cripple the city's air travel for days.
"How can this happen? How can you have an airport that is so integral to the national and international system with no back-up capacity, that one individual can have this impact?" Emanuel said.
He weighed in on the city's transportation woes during an unrelated Q&A with reporters at the Chicago Cultural Center, after announcing a new scholarship program for Chicago Public Schools students.
Emanuel said the agency's primary local job is to get the area's radar facility, heavily damaged nearly a week ago by a saboteur, up and running at full capacity.
"It’s not where it needs to be, and they’ve got to work harder and better and smarter and get it there," he said, as he commended the agency for its efforts to restore service.
Federal officials on Monday set Oct. 13 as their target date for having operations 100 percent restored.
Prosecutors say Brian Howard, 36, of Naperville, entered the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center in Aurora early Friday morning and caused incredible, strategic damage to the radar facility that handles high-altitude traffic above a large portion of the country's midsection.
They said Howard, who had worked at the facility for eight years and was involved with the facility's communications systems, was upset about recently being told he was being transferred to Hawaii.
Howard's alleged actions forced the cancellation of thousands of flights and cost an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in lost productivity. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.