FAA works round the clock to bring flights back to Puerto Rico

26 / 09 / 2017

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says that more than a dozen commercial passenger flights per day are now operating to Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico following hurricane recovery efforts.

FAA adds that as radars, navigational aids and other equipment damaged by Hurricane Maria are restored, the number of commercial flights is expected to increase. The airport handled nearly 100 total arrivals and departures on 24 September, including military and relief operations.

FAA has imposed a slot reservation system to manage the demand for ramp space and to safely separate aircraft in the air.

It has also airlifted a mobile air traffic control tower back to Cyril E. King International Airport  on the neighbouring island of St Thomas over the weekend. The tower was initially damaged by Hurricane Irma, the FAA brought in the mobile tower to help manage traffic but removed it to the mainland in advance of Hurricane Maria. The agency is shuttling controllers from San Juan to St. Thomas and back every day.

The FAA is bringing replacement radar and navigation systems to the islands by air and by sea and technicians are working to restore service. A long-range radar in the Turks and Caicos returned to service on the morning of 25 September, giving air traffic controllers a much better picture of the planes and helicopters operating in the area, it says.

Technicians were also reported to be hacking their way through rain forest with chain saws to reach a second long-range radar site on top of a mountain at Pico del Este.