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FREMONT, Calif. – A subcontractor’s mistake caused the FAA Telecommunications Infrastructure (FTI) system to shut down Wednesday morning for 20 harrowing minutes at one of the country’s largest regional air traffic control centers, leaving more than half the controllers on duty without the ability to communicate with airborne aircraft or use landline telephones to communicate with other air traffic control facilities.
Controllers at Oakland Center were forced to contact surrounding FAA facilities with their personal cell phones and coordinate instructions to aircraft that were relayed by these facilities over the emergency radio frequencies. Oakland Center is responsible for a huge swath of airspace encompassing most of the northern half of California and parts of western Nevada, in addition to many millions of miles of airspace over the Pacific Ocean.
The problem appears to have begun on Tuesday, when the subcontractors performing maintenance on the telephone and communication lines noticed a problem. The system was put on a backup line, but there was no notification given to air traffic controllers whatsoever that this was happening and no indication provided that controllers should be on alert should the system shut down.
Earlier Wednesday, during troubleshooting of the FTI lines, redundancies built into the backup system went down, leaving only half of the facility with radios and landline communications with other facilities. In addition, the terminal radar approach control facilities that interact with both Oakland Center and airport tower controllers did not get the data they needed to keep traffic moving efficiently.
Originally posted by 12.21.12
Don't worry I will be lookiing into it as the FAA as well as many other orginizations all have been preparing pandemic response under FEMA and National Security. The FAA is anticipating that employees will become sick and not allowed to work for weeks at a time. Which means a total shutdown of all airports and no travel, pending an FAA disaster. Also in the plan the FAA has been preparing quarantine stations as part of emergency preperations.