You choose, we deliver
If you are interested in this story, you might be interested in others from The Journal Gazette. Go to www.journalgazette.net/newsletter and pick the subjects you care most about. We'll deliver your customized daily news report at 3 a.m. Fort Wayne time, right to your email.

U.S.

  • Ferguson demonstrators rally across US for second day
    People protesting the Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury decision took to the streets in cities across the U.S. for a second day Tuesday, showing that the racially charged case has inflamed tensions thousands of miles from the predominantly black St.
  • 2 men charged with trying to support Islamic State
    MINNEAPOLIS – One of two Minnesota men accused of planning to join the Islamic State group was stopped at an airport by FBI agents before traveling to the Middle East, but the other man slipped by authorities, according to a criminal complaint
  • Prosecutor faces new criticism over Ferguson case
    FERGUSON, Mo. – He criticized the media. He talked about witness testimony that didn't match physical evidence. And he did it at night, as a city already on edge waited to learn if a grand jury would indict a white Ferguson police officer in
Advertisement
Associated Press
A fire at the William J. Hughes Technical Center at Atlantic City International Airport added to flight delays Friday.

N.J. airport fire having ripple effect on US flights

NEWARK, N.J. – Violent thunderstorms along the East Coast and a fire at an airport technical center in southern New Jersey combined to wreak havoc on flights around the country Friday night, leading one airline executive to tweet that “it will not be a pretty evening.”

The fire started at a little after noon at the William J. Hughes Technical Center at Atlantic City International Airport and forced the evacuation of 1,600 people who work at the complex, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The agency said the fire made some traffic flow systems unavailable, though it said the fire didn’t affect systems used to directly control air traffic. Traffic flow was moved to a backup system and performed manually during the transfer, the FAA said.

The system chiefly affected by the fire is used to automatically implement “ground stops” and “ground delays” – orders air traffic controllers may give to hold certain aircraft on the ground at airports instead of allowing them to take off as scheduled, or to delay their departure.

For example, if bad weather is causing a backup of planes trying to land at Northeast airports, FAA might order planes in Miami or Dallas or on the West Coast to hold on the ground until the backup is reduced. Since the fire disrupted the system that automatically implements grounds stops and delays, FAA personnel were calling airlines and air traffic control facilities around the country to issue the orders.

Rob Maruster, JetBlue’s chief operating officer, tweeted Friday, “It will not be a pretty evening, unfortunately.”

JetBlue had 66 flights that had either been delayed or canceled Friday evening, but that number was expected to grow into Saturday, airline spokeswoman Jenny Dervin said.

“That’s not a final number by any means,” she said.

Dervin attributed about half the JetBlue delays and cancellation to intense thunderstorms in the East and the other half to the FAA technical center fire.

For example, the fire disrupted some tower operations and flight management systems like metering – the automated arrival rate of aircraft into New York-area airports – which reduces the efficiency of airports and causes flights to back up, she said.

“It’s back-office support functions, but when it goes down – especially in bad weather – it just compounds the problem,” Dervin said.

Flight delays at New York City’s three major airports – LaGuardia, JFK and Newark Liberty – ranged from 80 minutes to 2 1/2 hours Friday evening, while delays at Boston’s Logan Airport were averaging more than an hour and 45 minutes. Severe thunderstorms swept through the area in the late afternoon, carrying 60 mph winds and dropping as much as 5 inches of rain in some parts of New Jersey.

In Atlanta, John Crenshaw, 46, had hoped to be in Britain in time to watch the Boodles, an exhibition tennis tournament in Buckinghamshire this weekend but was delayed on the tarmac at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Friday because of the fire in Atlantic City.

“I was supposed to go Atlanta to Boston and Boston to London, but we were still on the runway,” he told AP by phone from the airport, where he was waiting to board a Delta direct flight to London’s Heathrow Airport that later left.

He said his initial flight never took off and that as it taxied back to the gate, the pilot announced “there was an FAA computer problem and that it was the most widespread one since 9/11.”

Though he won’t be able to make the Boodles – “That’s $350 bucks down the drain,” he said – Crenshaw did not despair, since he’ll be in London by Saturday regardless.

“I’m going to Wimbledon,” he said. “I have center court tickets on Tuesday so that’s all that matters. As long as I am there by Tuesday, I guess all is not lost.”

Advertisement