This week: Fire causes havoc in Chicago, Beijing to expand & more

It’s been a rather busy week in the world of airport related news, as we had to pick our top stories carefully for you this week. Here they are:

The most impacting news this week was definitely the radar facility fire in Chicago causing havoc for the local airspace. NBC Chicago wrote that more than 1,120 flights were canceled between the two Chicago airports, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. Combined with delays caused by Monday night’s severe weather, passengers were left playing planes, trains and automobiles. Chicago Terminal Radar Approach Control, a radar facility on Bowes Road, was evacuated of all personnel at about 11:30 a.m. after smoke was seen coming from a vent shaft inside the building.

Then there was China with some big news: The Wall Street Journal wrote that Beijing plans to spend around US$14 billion to build a new airport in the outskirts of the city to relieve congestion at its air travel gateway, already the world’s second-busiest. Set to open in 2018, the new airport will have four runways in its first phase and will handle nearly as many passengers as the existing Beijing Capital Airport (PEK), according to a newly released environmental-impact report by China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection. The plans have provisions for three additional runways as needed. The article also discusses the need for more airspace allocation for civil aviation which lack there of currently contributes to a congested airspace often causing delays.

After two recent issues with flights from London City Airport (LCY), this week we heard again of one when the Guardian reported that a plane carrying more than 60 passengers had to turn back to London City Airport after part of its wing became detached in mid-air. According to the article alarmed passengers said they heard a loud bang and alerted cabin crew when they realised a six-foot long section of the left wing was hanging loose from the plane. A spokesperson for London City Airport said: “CityJet flight WX281 returned to London City Airport due to a mechanical issue. The aircraft landed safely and all passengers and crew disembarked normally.”

Staying in England where this week Heathrow and Gatwick airports have both unveiled revised expansion plans in an attempt to secure permission to build the UK’s next runway, reported the BBC. Heathrow (LHR) has proposed improved compensation worth £550m for those affected by its plans for a third runway and Gatwick (LGW) has said its plans will keep fares low and create 120,000 jobs. Both have submitted their plans to the Airports Commission, charged with deciding how to expand UK air capacity.

And for our last news story for this week, we picked one that is slightly left of center: Venture Beat reported this week that Samsung, no stranger to lavish marketing stunts, will rebrand the busiest terminal in London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) to promote its Galaxy S5 smartphone. The ad deal, which kicks off this Monday, “will feature the ‘Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5′ moniker, with all the signage and digital screens promoting the handset and projecting images of it.”

That’s all for this week – safe travels!

[Picture from Wiki Commons – some rights reserved]