Radar fails in Memphis; hundreds of flights affected

 ATLANTA (CNN) — Air traffic controllers were forced to use their personal cell phones to reroute hundreds of flights Tuesday after the Federal Aviation Administration’s Memphis Center lost radar and telephone service for more than two hours, snarling air traffic in the middle of the nation.

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The FAA’s Memphis Center lost communication service Tuesday, affecting FedEx flights and others.

A spokesman for FedEx, which has its hub in Memphis, Tennessee, said the package delivery company had diverted 11 aircraft to other cities. But most of its flights take off and land after 10 p.m., so FedEx expected the impact to be minimal, the spokesman said.

Air traffic was halted at 12:35 p.m. ET when a major communication line that feeds all the telephones at the FAA’s Memphis Center failed, said FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.

Service was restored at 3 p.m.

The malfunction, which occurred inside a telephone company’s switching office, made it impossible for air controllers at FAA’s Memphis Center to communicate normally with adjoining centers to hand off control of flights, Bergen said.

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