Chicago Bizav Traffic Moving Following ATC Center Fire

 - October 6, 2014, 3:00 PM
Traffic levels at Chicago Midway Airport last week were at around 60 percent of the norm for this time of year.

Ten days after the Chicago air route traffic control center (ZAU) was shut down by a saboteur’s fire that badly damaged the facility’s infrastructure, business aviation operations seem to have recovered fairly well. According to the air traffic services team of the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), bizav operations at Chicago-area satellite airports were moving well last week. The major exception was at Chicago Midway Airport, where significant restrictions are still in place. “Some automation issues at ZAU have hampered ATC flow procedures,” an NBAA spokesman told AIN. “On Thursday [October 2], the number of [alternate] routes issued came dangerously close to overwhelming the system.” That day, rain and thunderstorms moved through the Chicago area during the afternoon and evening hours. By noon Thursday, controllers were handling only slightly more than 80 percent of average traffic levels for this time of year at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and 60 percent at Midway. The airlines pre-empted some system delays by cancelling hundreds of Thursday flights. NBAA’s air traffic services team is keeping a close eye on Chicago-area airspace, adding, “tower en route flights are still common out of the area [which] means the current restrictions might keep some aircraft at lower altitudes longer than normal.” Overflight traffic is still being rerouted north and south around Chicago, with 200-nm in-trail restrictions quite common for eastbound traffic from the West Coast. The FAA still expects en route ATC functions at ZAU will be back to normal by Monday, October 13.