Chicago Airline Fiasco Shows Air Traffic Control Vulnerability To Crime


Demands for answers and promises of technology breakthroughs bounced across Washington as the nation’s air traffic control system continued its gradual recovery from the fire at an Aurora, Il., radar facility that has grounded thousands of flights since Friday, the Chicago Tribune reports. Experts commended the Federal Aviation Administration for launching an investigation into the alleged act of arson, but some threw cold water on claims that a next-generation, satellite-based radar system could stifle another rogue attack. “NextGen is new technology replacing old technology. If someone is determined to take out NextGen, they will be able to take out NextGen,” said Sid McGuirk of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fl.

The myriad technologies involved in NextGen could take many years to implement nationwide, in part because the FAA neither perfected the emerging system nor persuaded the airlines to invest in it. A veteran FAA staffer who has worked at airport towers and radar facilities in the Chicago area said, “To think that traffic would still flow seamlessly (if a key cog were missing), we all know that that is not going to happen.”

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