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- Flights into Dallas’ two main airport were halted Wednesday after smoke in an air traffic control tower forced an evacuation.
- A ground stop was issued for Dallas Fort Worth International Airport as well as Dallas Love Field, the main hub for Southwest Airlines.
- The FAA said in a statement that the region’s TRACON radar tower – not the control tower – which affected all flights entering the airspace.
- Update: Flights resumed around 2pm local time Wednesday once the ground stop was lifted.
All flights into Dallas’ two major airports, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Dallas Love Field, were halted Wednesday afternoon by the Federal Aviation Administration after smoke in an air traffic control tower triggered an evacuation.
“Air traffic controllers were forced to evacuate from the DFW Terminal Radar Approach Control, which manages airspace across most of North Texas, after a report of smoke in the building, possibly from ongoing construction work,” the agency said in a press release.
The agency continued, explaining that it was the radar operations that were affected, and not the control tower.
The DFW DPS is responding to the alarm, which was declared shortly before 12:30 p.m. The FAA put a ground stop in place to help manage the volume of traffic in the interim.
To be clear, this is not the control tower (DFW actually has one on each side of the airfield). It’s the big radar room that controls airspace over much of North Texas. All flights coming into – or out of – DFW and Love must pass through the TRACON airspace.
The two control towers at DFW are still staffed and operational. Under our contingency plan, controllers from the radar room are relocating to the control towers at DFW to resume limited service in the affected airspace for both DFW and Dallas Love Field.
In an update at 1:30 pm local time, the FAA said it hoped to have controllers back at their positions in a half hour.
DFW DPS is clearing the remaining smoke from the building. We hope to have controllers back on position within the next 30 minutes. After that, the ground stop will be gradually lifted as the airspace gets back to full volume.
About one hour into the stoppage, delays were beginning to stack up at both airports. According to FlightAware, inbound flights to DAL were being held at their origin until 2pm local time. DFW, the larger of the two airports, was seeing the same inbound hold, as well as departure delays averaging 41 minutes.
Lots of aircraft waiting to depart from runways 18L and 17R at DFW pic.twitter.com/HQ6HTtx980
— Ethan Klapper (@ethanklapper) February 13, 2019
Just before 2pm local time, the ground stop was lifted for both airports. Lingering delays persisted as the traffic backups were routed into and out of the airports.
“The controllers are back on position and the airspace is back to full capacity. It will likely take some time to work through the delays,” the FAA said at 1:46pm Central. “Please contact the airlines for specific flight information, including the number of delays and cancellations
Southwest confirmed to Business Insider that some flights into DAL had been affected.
FAA has issued a ground stop for Dallas Love Field (DAL). As a result, some Southwest flights scheduled to arrive and depart DAL have been diverted or cancelled. We encourage Customers to check their flight status on Southwest.com for the most up-to-date information on today’s operations
Benjamin Zhang assisted with reporting.