Equipment Failure Disrupting Flights at Memphis Airport

MEMPHIS, TN - Commercial airliner flights within a 250-mile radius of Memphis were interrupted today by a failure of communications equipment at a regional air-traffic control center, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

High-altitude flights through the region were discontinued while the equipment was being fixed, leaving planes grounded at an undetermined number of airports around the country.

"What we did is put a ground stop in place for any flight that would transition through that airspace.  We held them on the ground wherever they were, whether it was Miami, Seattle, Los Angeles, Boston," FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.

"Other adjoining air traffic facilities that handled the flights that were remaining in that airspace.  The airspace was completely cleared by 1:30 (p.m.) Eastern time."

Bergen said the FAA did not know how long it would take to fix equipment at the Air Route Traffic Control Center at Memphis or have an immediate number on how many flights were affected.

The airspace monitored by the Memphis center covers Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, parts of Indiana and Kentucky and West Tennessee.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)