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Washington, D.C. air traffic control center evacuated due to construction fumes

The air traffic control center that directs planes through the Washington, D.C. area was evacuated due to a report of smoke/fumes in the facility.

The air traffic control center in Leesburg, Virginia that directs planes through the Washington, D.C. area was evacuated Monday, July 10, around 6:00 p.m., after fumes from construction on the roof entered the building’s air supply. Employees were allowed to reenter the facility at around 9 p.m, and flights began returning to normal around 10 p.m.

One FAA employee was transported to a local hospital for non-life-threatening symptoms caused by the fumes.

The three major DC-area airports – National, Dulles, and BWI – had to delay at least 51 and cancel 68 flights, according to flight tracking service FlightAware.

Around 6pm on July 10, an FAA control center in the DC region experienced an issue that halted air traffic in the region for a number of hours. At 10pm, the control center started to resume operations. There are many cancelations and delays. We expect residual delays into Tuesday, July 11 as FAA returns to normal operations. Passengers should check with their airline for specific information about their flight.

Reagan National Airport statement

Flights began arriving and departing the D.C. area around 10 p.m. on Monday.

A network of Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC) control and direct planes while en route between their destination and origin airports. The FAA declared “ATC Zero” for the ZDC ARTCC at 6:55 p.m. EDT, signifying to other control centers not to route any additional planes into the region. The earliest the control center might open is 10 p.m. EDT.

Airplanes departing National Airport, Dulles, and BWI in the immediate D.C. area were stopped. The Federal Aviation Administration reports the problem is “environmental issues in the control room.”

Some flights are able to depart from the region’s airports during the outage, but experienced delays because they needed to receive alternate routing out of the area. Flights attempting to depart the D.C. area must stay below 12,000 feet and be handed off from airport control tower to airport control tower. The airspace above that is controlled by the Center, which can’t be done while the building is evacuated.

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