Flight delays continue today after a contract worker sabotaged an FAA air traffic control center in Aurora on Friday.
Sources tell NCTV17 that the FAA does have a contingency plan for events such as a sudden shut down, that calls for management to establish communication with nearby FAA facilities to work together. However, it’s unclear whether or not the plan was activated or if the plan itself was simply overwhelmed, causing the complete grounding of flights at both O’Hare and Midway for more than four hours.
Naperville resident, Brian Howard, has been charged with one count of destruction of aircraft or aircraft facility in connection to the fire at the Aurora FAA flight control center. The 36-year-old set fire to the basement and destroyed communication connections within the facility, before attempting to take his own life. His actions resulted in the cancellation of almost 2,000 flights at Chicago airports, and disrupted air traffic across the nation.
Howard, worked as an FAA contractor and was apparently despondent over a recent notification of a transfer to Hawaii. He has worked at the Aurora facility for eight years. A neighbor describes him as a loner.
“He seems like he just keeps to himself, really doesn’t talk to anyone,” said Carole Yuskis, a neighbor of Howard. “ My neighbor, Debbie and I rarely see him visiting with anyone. This whole complex is known to be a very friendly and quiet complex, so it’s quite a surprise to us.”
One observer remarked that this is a wake up call. The attack happened during the midnight shift with only 20 workers or so at the facility and fewer airplanes up in the air, if this was an hour and half later, the story could have been different.
Howard currently remains in an Aurora hospital under police guard. No court date has been set. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
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