O'Hare, Midway Flights Grounded By Smoke

May 13, 2014

Incoming and outgoing flights at Chicago's airports were halted today after smoke emerged from a regional radar facility. 

Credit Payton Chung / "O'Hare Concourse C" CC by 2.0

The Federal Aviation Administration says all its personnel were evacuated from the Chicago Terminal Radar Approach Control, or TRACON, facility in Elgin at around 11:30 a.m.  TRACON provides radar approach control services for O'Hare and Midway and smaller airports in the Chicago area.

FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro says a ground stop is in effect for all flights in and out of both airports. Molinaro says inbound flights already in the air were handled by a backup facility in the city of Aurora. 

Elgin police said the evacuation was ordered because smoke was coming from a faulty motor in an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) unit at the facility.

CBS Chicago reported that TRACON workers were allowed to return to the building shortly before 1 p.m. after firefighters deemed the building was safe and there was no fire, but it was unclear how soon air traffic would resume at O’Hare and Midway.