U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said Sunday that he will seek an investigation into how a contract employee was able to sabotage a regional control center and bring Chicago's two international airports to a halt.
The Illinois Democrat told The Associated Press that he will ask inspectors general at the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate whether there was a security breach when the employee entered the building early Friday with a suitcase without causing suspicion. He then started a fire in the basement telecommunications room before attempting to commit suicide by slashing his throat.
The arson caused the cancellations of more than 2,000 flights on Friday. On Sunday, 550 flights were canceled at O'Hare and 50 at Midway. Durbin said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told him that 23 of 29 computer racks were damaged, and the FAA said Sunday that it decided to replace the entire central communications network at the center. “Thank God nobody lost their lives, but it could have happened in this circumstance," Durbin said.
Brian Howard, 36, of Naperville, is charged with destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities, a felony. If convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
- Air Travel Still Lagging After FAA Fire
- Chaotic Skies: Chicago FAA Fire Halts Flights Coast to Coast
- Why the Chicago FAA Fire Caused a Nationwide Travel Mess