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After Fire, FAA Orders Review Of Contingency Plans, Security

Photo caption:

Photo by Paul Beaty AP

Dennis McCormack of Rockaway, N.J. checks the departure board only to find out that his flight to Newark, N.J. has been canceled at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.

The chief of the Federal Aviation Administration has ordered the agency to review the contingency plans and security protocols of all its major facilities.

The order from Administrator Michael P. Huerta came three days after a contractor set fire to an FAA air traffic facility in Aurora, Illinois.

As we reported, the fire crippled the system and led to thousands of disrupted flights in and out of Chicago's O'Hare and Midway airports.

"The air transportation system is vital to our economy and people rely on it to function 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Huerta said in a statement. "I want to make sure that we have the most robust contingency plans possible."

Bloomberg reports that the system is not expected to get back to normal for days.

The news service adds:

"More than 400 flights have been scrubbed for today after 900 were erased yesterday because of traffic limits at Chicago's airports, according to industry-tracking site FlightAware.com. The Federal Aviation Administration said it was making progress and expects to have the fire-damaged center in Aurora, Illinois, fully online on Oct. 13.

"'The issue now is you've got so many crews and planes out of place,' said George Hamlin, a transportation consultant in Fairfax, Virginia. 'You've got the chess pieces spread all over the board now and you need to get them all where they are supposed to be before things can get moving.'

"Operations are improving at Chicago Midway International Airport and O'Hare International, the nation's second-busiest airport, as air-traffic control duties are transferred to sites around the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration said yesterday in a statement."

Meanwhile, WLS-TV reports that Brian Howard, 36, is scheduled to appear in court today. Howard is charged with "destruction of aircraft facilities."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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