Last week a “contract employee” at the Aurora, Illinois radar facility set fire to his workplace.  The fire caused chaos at Chicago’s airports.  The larger, O’Hare, is a pivotal point in the air transport business.  Disrupting its operations causes ripples nearly everywhere.  The Aurora facility controls air traffic over much of the Midwest.  As a major transition point between transcon flights, a disruption has big downstream impacts.

This what O’Hare’s operations looked like between September 22 and September 29.  To go, overnight, from 4 cancellations to 814 is a shock to the aviation system.  Weather systems are monitored and preparations can be put in place. But there was no way to get ready for this event.  It is remarkable that the people involved have been able to recover as much as they have in the short time.

2014-10-01_8-24-06To give you an idea of how much of an impact the O’Hare has on traffic, take a look at these two charts.  The ripple effect is clear and demonstrates how important Chicago is the aviation system.

2014-10-01_11-41-152014-10-01_11-41-30We spoke with Dr. Tulinda Larsen Vice President Sales & Marketing at aviation ops data warehouse who said, “The  impact to date of the Aurora Fire has been the cancellation of 4,600 flights, impacting 310,000 passengers and costing passengers $208 million in additional travel expenses. And this accounts for actual cancellations for U.S. carriers each day and then backing out “typical” cancellations (due to mechanical, crew, minor weather, etc.) The estimated passengers impacted is based on typical seat counts and passenger load factors for mainline and regional flights.”

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