U.S. FAA's Huerta says reviewing contingency plans, security polices

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 29, 2014 9:47 AM

By Alwyn Scott

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. aviation safety agency's top official said on Monday he has asked for a review of all U.S. air traffic control contingency plans and security policies, following a fire on Friday that crippled air travel over much of the Midwestern U.S.

Speaking at an industry conference, Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta said the agency won't hesitate to make changes in security policies if needed.

The outage Friday affected more than 3,000 flights. It was caused by a contract employee who allegedly started a fire at a control facility near Chicago and suffered self-inflicted wounds. Huerta, in his first public comments since the incident Friday, said 20 of 29 pieces of communications equipment were damaged by the fire, and installation of new equipment began Sunday night, and is being carried out largely by contractor Harris Corp.

He said the agency was undertaking a 30-day review of its contingency plans at air traffic control facilities and also a review of security procedures.

"It's very, very important that we do a thorough review of the security protocols for the access to all of our facilities and make sure that we have the best processes in place," Huerta said at a conference organized by the Air Traffic Control Association.

(Reporting by Alwyn Scott; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)