The Center for Grassroots Oversight

This page can be viewed at http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a840slineyresponds&scale=0


(8:40 a.m.) September 11, 2001: FAA Manager Ben Sliney Begins Responding to Hijacking

At the FAA’s Herndon Command Center, the national operations manager, Ben Sliney, learns more details of the hijacking of Flight 11, and becomes involved with the emergency response to it. (Spencer 2008, pp. 21) A supervisor at the Command Center informed Sliney of the suspected hijacking at just before 8:30 (see 8:28 a.m. September 11, 2001). Soon after, the supervisor interrupted a meeting Sliney was in, to tell him American Airlines had called to report the deteriorating situation on Flight 11 (see 8:30 a.m.-8:40 a.m. September 11, 2001).
Sliney Receives More Details - Sliney heads to the center’s operations floor, where the supervisor gives him further details of the call from American Airlines, including information about flight attendant Betty Ong’s phone call from Flight 11 (see 8:19 a.m. September 11, 2001). The supervisor says the plane’s transponder has been switched off (see (Between 8:13 a.m. and 8:21 a.m.) September 11, 2001), which means no flight data is showing on the screens of air traffic controllers, and the latest information from the FAA’s Boston Center is that Flight 11 has turned south, and is now 35 miles north of New York City. On one of the large screens at the front of the Command Center that shows flight trajectories, Sliney can see that the track for Flight 11 is in “ghost.” This means that, because no transponder data is being received, the computer is displaying track information based on previously stored track data.
Sliney Seeks Information, Requests Teleconference - Sliney instructs his staff to contact facilities along the path the flight appears to be on, to find if anyone is in contact with it or tracking it. (Spencer 2008, pp. 1 and 19-21) He will later recall, “I figured we’d try to get the people on the ground, the towers in the area, the police departments, anyone we could get to give us information on where this flight was.” (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation 9/10/2006) Sliney then requests a teleconference between the FAA’s Boston Center, New York Center, and FAA headquarters in Washington, so they can share information about the flight in real time. (Spencer 2008, pp. 21) The Command Center has already initiated a teleconference between the Boston, New York, and Cleveland Centers, immediately after it was notified of the suspected Flight 11 hijacking. (9/11 Commission 8/26/2004, pp. 11) However, Sliney apparently does not request military assistance. According to author Lynn Spencer, “The higher echelons at headquarters in Washington will make the determination as to the necessity of military assistance in dealing with the hijacking.” (Spencer 2008, pp. 21)


Creative Commons License Except where otherwise noted, the textual content of each timeline is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike