East Coast Quake
August 23, 2011 by USA Post
East Coast Quake, Thousands of travelers flying to and from the East Coast was delayed on Tuesday by an earthquake that shook the airport terminals and forced the evacuation of the towers of air traffic control in some of the busiest airports in the nation.
Immediately after the earthquake, the FAA ordered planes at airports around the country to remain on the ground instead of flying to airports in New York, Philadelphia, New Jersey, Washington, DC, and Virginia, where traffic temporarily halted. Among the major airports in the region, only New York LaGuardia continued its operations throughout the day.
By late afternoon, traffic at all airports was returning to normal, although delays are expected at night. Delta Air Lines said it expected to cancel about 15 flights from JFK and a dozen flights to Reagan National in the earthquake. JetBlue had resumed operations, but urges passengers to check their flight status and delays expected both in and out of airports on the East Coast.
American Airlines four planes diverted away from the earthquake zone, spokesman Tim Smith.
“In the first few minutes, we knew what we had, so I sent them somewhere else until we had a better handle on what the conditions,” said Smith. He said the four aircraft to be refueled and finally, continue to their intended destination, although delays could snowball in the busy New York air corridor.
“The planes come and go,” Smith said, “but New York’s airports, when you get a delay tends to stay.”
United Airlines diverted two planes bound for JFK, one of Pittsburgh and the other Hartford, Conn. Both are expected to complete the trip to New York later on Tuesday, said airline spokeswoman Megan McCarthy.
“We have some delays, but (the earthquake) was a fairly minimal impact,” he said.
Southwest Airlines expects delays on the east coast to continue on Tuesday night but did not expect widespread cancellations, said spokeswoman Beth Harbin.
Two hours after the earthquake, the FAA was reporting delays at Newark Liberty International Airport and Reagan National Airport near Washington. Flights in the Philadelphia airport also experienced delays of over an hour Tuesday afternoon.
There was grumbling transport elsewhere along the east coast too. Station Washington Union – serving Amtrak, commuter trains and the metro – was evacuated due to falling plaster. Metro officials said subway trains were not damaged, but operating at reduced speeds.
The towers of Kennedy, Newark and Reagan National airports were evacuated during the quake, according to officials of the FAA and the National Air Traffic Association Contollers.
Tim Hardison, an official of the controllers association, said Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland was closed to air traffic. The base air traffic is responsible for drivers working for the FAA.
Laura Brown, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, who was evacuated from FAA headquarters in downtown Washington, said in an email that he was unaware of the interruptions of the equipment.
But Hardison said the FAA regional air traffic control center in Leesburg, Virginia, was “moving pretty hard” during the quake, which was centered in Virginia.
“Everyone was aware that there are so good that something was up. I can not describe how long, because we were all looking at each other,” Hardison said in an email.
“We’re still trying to talk to airplanes, because I wanted to know why they were shaking,” he said. “Nobody was in a state of panic, but people were trying to figure out what was going on.”
Drivers in the center, which handles air traffic from various airports in Virginia and Maryland, “was doing his job,” he said.
After the earthquake, all the drivers in the building – including those who take their breaks – were ordered to return to the control room “to make sure everything was squared away,” said Hardison.
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