Former US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will lead an independent investigation of the disruptions at New York JFK following a winter storm last week, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced.

JFK experienced a surge in rescheduled arrivals, gate delays and ground-equipment breakdowns in the wake of a Jan. 4 winter storm that deposited 8 in. of snow there.

On Jan. 6, the port authority and terminal operators requested that the FAA limit some flights into the airport. That included all arrivals into Terminal 1, which is managed by a consortium of Air France, Japan Airlines, Korean Air and Lufthansa.

On Jan. 7, a water pipe feeding the sprinkler system in Terminal 4 broke, flooding the facility and causing authorities to cut off power to the affected areas.

LaHood, who served as transportation secretary from 2009–13 and is a senior policy advisor at the law firm DLA Piper, will assemble a team of independent experts to investigate the incident, the authority said Jan. 10. The probe will examine the performance of airlines, terminal operators and airport management through all phases of the event, including preparations and contingency planning leading up to the storm, the closure and re-opening of the airport, and recovery operations.

LaHood expects to report findings and recommendations in the coming months.

“The Port Authority is committed to providing the highest standard of service to all travelers, and the series of events following the winter storm this month were completely unacceptable,” said Rick Cotton, the authority’s executive director. “We are committed to understanding where and why failures occurred, and making whatever changes are necessary to assure these failures never happen again.”

Bill Carey, bill.carey@aviationweek.com