FAA: Damaged Equipment Removed From Facility Monday

Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center in Aurora was heavily damaged by an alleged saboteur on Sept. 26

Federal aviation officials said they would set out Monday to remove the remaining fire-damaged equipment at a Chicago area air traffic control center where sabotage disrupted travel nationwide.
In a statement, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said the damaged equipment should be removed by Monday morning and replacement equipment continues to arrive for installation and testing.

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Federal prosecutors allege 36-year-old Brian Howard of Naperville started a fire in the basement telecommunications room of the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center in Aurora before attempting to commit suicide. 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.

Officials said Friday that Howard used 4 gallons of gasoline to set fire to the facility, which now are bring rewired with miles of new cable.

Operations have not yet fully resumed since then. Lunsford said Sunday that the number of arrivals and departures at O'Hare and Midway international airports were almost 95 percent of the two-month average for a Sunday.

The head of the FAA said Friday that everything is on target to restore air traffic back to normal conditions at Chicago's airports by Oct. 13. Michael Huerta toured the facility and met with Illinois' congressional delegation, including Sen. Dick Durbin, Sen. Mark Kirk and Rep. Bill Foster.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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