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Context of '(9:01 a.m.-9:04 a.m.) September 11, 2001: United Airlines Dispatcher and Air Traffic Control Coordinator Try Contacting Flight 175'

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Ed Ballinger.Ed Ballinger. [Source: CNN]At the United Airlines System Operations Control (SOC) center outside Chicago, flight dispatcher Ed Ballinger learns that Flight 175 is suspected as being hijacked, and then sends text messages to try and make contact with it. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 23-24] The SOC center has just been contacted by the United Airlines maintenance office in San Francisco, about a call it received from an attendant on Flight 175, who had reported that their plane had been hijacked (see Shortly Before 9:00 a.m. September 11, 2001). [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/2001] Subsequently, around 9:01 or 9:02, a dispatch manager at the SOC goes to Ballinger’s desk and informs him of the details of this call. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 23] Ballinger is the flight dispatcher responsible for United’s aircraft flying from the East Coast to the West Coast, which include Flight 175 (and also Flight 93). [Chicago Daily Herald, 4/14/2004] At 9:03, he sends an ACARS message to Flight 175: “How is the ride. Anything dispatch can do for you.” (ACARS is an e-mail system that enables personnel on the ground to rapidly communicate with those in the cockpit of an aircraft.) At the same time, the United Airlines air traffic control coordinator also sends an ACARS message to the flight: “NY approach lookin for ya on [frequency] 127.4.” Just after 9:03, unaware it has now crashed into the World Trade Center, Ballinger and the air traffic control coordinator re-send these ACARS messages to Flight 175. [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 9 and 23-24] Twenty minutes later, Ballinger will remain unaware that Flight 175 has crashed and still be trying to contact it by ACARS (see 9:23 a.m. September 11, 2001). [9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 26] All airlines have a staff of dispatchers like Ballinger who, under FAA rules, are responsible for monitoring aircraft in flight. They follow each flight’s progress, relay safety information, and handle any problems that arise. [Spencer, 2008, pp. 14 and 35] United Airlines dispatchers typically monitor up to two dozen flights at once. [Longman, 2002, pp. 68] Ballinger has 16 transcontinental flights taking off early this morning that he is responsible for. [New York Observer, 6/20/2004]

Entity Tags: Ed Ballinger

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

United Airlines flight dispatcher Ed Ballinger is informed that Flight 93, which he is responsible for monitoring, is heading for Washington, DC. At the United Airlines System Operations Control (SOC) center, near Chicago, dispatch manager Mike Barber tells Ballinger that Flight 93 is “off track, heading for DC.” The aircraft has just reversed course (see (9:36 a.m.) September 11, 2001) and, having learned that it is not responding to FAA communications (see (9:30 a.m.) September 11, 2001), officials at United Airlines headquarters now believe it has been hijacked. [Wall Street Journal, 10/15/2001; 9/11 Commission, 7/24/2004, pp. 456; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 41] Also at this time, a United dispatcher who is assisting Ballinger sends a text message to Flight 93, asking, “How’s the wx [weather][?]” and, “Can dispatch be of any assistance?” No response is received. [9/11 Commission, 1/27/2004; 9/11 Commission, 8/26/2004, pp. 41]

Entity Tags: Ed Ballinger, Mike Barber

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline


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