"Hurricane Katrina knocked out much of the aviation communications infrastructure along the Gulf Coast," Federal Computer Week observes. But jury-rigged control towers and mobile satellite uplinks, installed by federal workers, let thousands of relief planes land.
We have patched together the system with mobile communications equipment, satellite-based equipment and power generators, FAA spokesman Greg Martin said. Thats all you can do when you are looking at a region with no infrastructure..."Last weekend, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport became one of the nations top five busiest airports, as employees handled 3,300 flights per day -- quadruple the normal air traffic levels, according to FAA officials.The airport is the main conduit for relief and relocation efforts. Because of the heavier traffic, the FAA brought in a portable air traffic control tower to magnify the communications capacity of the airports main tower. Twenty-four technical operations specialists and 18 air traffic control specialists work in the facility.In Mississippi, the Defense Department deployed a temporary tower at Stennis International Airport to assist emergency relief aircraft.The military has also launched radar devices and radio communications on aircraft to fill in connectivity gaps.Today, radar is slowing coming back online, say officials from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.