The new normal at O'Hare means lowered expectations

  • Jackie and Art Skwerski of Oak Park wait at O'Hare International Airport. Their flight was on time Tuesday.

    Jackie and Art Skwerski of Oak Park wait at O'Hare International Airport. Their flight was on time Tuesday. Marni Pyke/Daily Herald

  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Bishop Michael Girlinghouse said his flight from Tulsa was uneventful despite an FAA crisis.

    Evangelical Lutheran Church of America Bishop Michael Girlinghouse said his flight from Tulsa was uneventful despite an FAA crisis. Marni Pyke/Daily Herald

 
 
Updated 10/1/2014 5:27 AM

Compared to Friday's frenzy at O'Hare International Airport, passengers were upbeat but on guard Tuesday as the Federal Aviation Administration worked "around the clock" to meet an Oct. 13 deadline to restore service to normal.

The Chicago Department of Aviation reported about 260 flights canceled at O'Hare and delays of up to 30 minutes in the aftermath of sabotage at Chicago Center, the high-altitude air traffic control facility in Aurora. At Midway, waits were more than 20 minutes with six cancellations.

 

Some delays are expected to continue until repair work is completed.

"I got really lucky," said Rona Godecke of Naperville whose flight back from Argentina after 10 days away arrived on time.

Likewise, Bishop Michael Girlinghouse's flight from Tulsa was on the mark Tuesday. Girlinghouse, who was in town for a Evangelical Lutheran Church in America conference, was worried after Friday's destruction of radar and communications feeds at Chicago Center caused massive cancellations and delays across the world.

But "not much happened," he said. "Plane took off on time, landed on time. Suitcase is here ... everything's good."

Oak Park retirees Jackie and Art Skwerski were en route to a family vacation in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

"We were really concerned, as everybody has been," Jackie Skwerski said. "So far, our flights are on time ... I think we're going to be OK."

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The wariness isn't surprising considering the extent of the damage in Aurora, which is requiring a complete rebuild and replacement of cabling, computers, software and equipment. Naperville resident Brian Howard appeared in federal court Monday after the FBI charged him with destruction of aircraft facilities. He worked as a field technician for Harris Corp., an FAA contractor.

Chicago Center, which employs 400 controllers, handles about 3 million flights a year, or 9,000 a day. The FAA has diverted the workload to other air traffic control centers in Elgin and throughout the Midwest.

But its loss is still taking a toll, despite improvement over Friday and the weekend. The FAA said "almost 80 percent of the average Tuesday traffic for the past two months was flying in and out of O'Hare, and about 85 percent at Midway."

Average Tuesday traffic in and out of O'Hare in August came to 2,667 flights and 795 at Midway.

FAA officials said cleaners and technicians were "working around the clock" at Chicago Center where authorities say Howard set fires in the basement before a failed suicide attempt.

Currently, workers are building a new telecommunications room and installing an extensive system of cabling.

0 Comments
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.