Shutdown of Air Traffic in Chicago

On Sept 26th one man, Brian Howard, cause the worst air traffic disruption since 9/11. Almost 4,000 flights have been canceled at O’Hare and Midway International airports sending ripples out affecting many other airports. Things are almost back to normal now, but the majority of flights at those locations are still experiencing an average of 20-30 minute delays. O’Hare had handled almost 900,000 take-offs and landings last year, making it the second busiest airport in the world.

Brian worked for Harris Corp. modernizing the Communications Network in the Aurora FAA Facility. He worked in that facility for 8 years and recently became disgruntled over the news that he would be transferred to Hawaii. He came in to work on Friday Sept 26th and set fire to the server racks in the basement, and afterwards attempted to take his own life by slicing his throat.

The head of the FAA said they will be looking into how a single person could cause so much mayhem and they will be reevaluating their security and policies to prevent catastrophes like this from happening again. They will also be looking into the lack of contingency plan which is causing the excess in time it’s taking to become fully operational again. A contingency plan is something that was supposed to be in effect on the system but was not implemented.

Brian had sent the following message on Facebook right before he set the fire: “April, Pop, luv you guys and I am sorry. Leaving you with a big mess. Do your best to move on quickly from me please. Feel like I give a [expletive] for the first time in a long time again … but not for too long (haha!) So I’m gonna smoke this blunt and move on, take care everyone.” If he’s convicted, Brain could face up to 20 years in prison and up to $250,000 fine.

TL;DL – Lack of physical security policies and contingency plan causes one of the biggest FAA disasters ever.

– Chad Johnson


One thought on “Shutdown of Air Traffic in Chicago

  1. Interesting. Unsure what measures they could take to prevent disgruntled employees from doing something like this, if they are in a position that has access to the server room in the first place. Security guards? Or was this completely unsecured, even lacking a card/password lock and he had no business being there?

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