FAA temporarily closes Chicago Midway Air Traffic Control tower due to positive COVID-19

Source: Midway International Airport

In a statement released by NATCA yesterday, they addressed this topic.

This morning, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, AFL-CIO (NATCA) received confirmation that several technicians at Chicago Midway Air Traffic Control Tower (MDW) tested positive for COVID-19. NATCA has asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to close the facility until it can be disinfected according to appropriate public health standards. We have also asked to review the cleaning protocols and materials used so that NATCA’s industrial hygienist can ensure the efficacy of the work on behalf of our Union’s members.

We have also asked the FAA to coordinate with the local health authority and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide testing to all aviation safety professionals who work at MDW Tower. NATCA is adamant that the testing must occur immediately and is hopeful there will be no additional COVID-19 infections. We are encouraged that the FAA is pursuing the rapid testing of all personnel at MDW Tower.

We applaud the FAA for taking the important and necessary step in moving air traffic services from MDW Tower to the Chicago Terminal Radar Approach Control facility (TRACON, C90) while MDW Tower is disinfected by outside professionals.

The airport implemented its contingency plan to use back-up facilities and reduce traffic to keep operations live. Until further notice, operations will remain limited until this can be addressed with a ‘one-in-one-out”.  The question now comes to mind, should all ATC tower personnel be tested as a normal course of action?  Flight traffic is already so greatly reduced, if towers now have to be taken off-line and the remaining flights limited even further, the impact of COVID-19 to the aviation industry only worsens.