Latest Updates on FAA System Failure Grounding US Flights

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Latest Updates on FAA System Failure Grounding US Flights

Airport flight status board. (Photo via phive2015 / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Update: January 20, 2023 at 9:30 a.m. ET

The Federal Aviation Administration said a preliminary review of the computer issues that caused a nationwide ground stop on January 11 revealed that a contracted employee “unintentionally deleted files,” triggering the failure.

According to Reuters.com, FAA officials said the issue occurred while personnel were working “to correct synchronization between the live primary database and a backup database.” The agency revealed it has “so far found no evidence of a cyber-attack or malicious intent.”

In response to the ground stop, FAA acting Administrator Billy Nolen plans to hold a virtual briefing on Friday for lawmakers in the United States demanding answers for the travel chaos.

Update: January 12, 2023 at 8:10 a.m. ET

The United States Government said the root cause of the ground stop created by the system failures at the Federal Aviation Administration was a mistake that occurred during routine scheduled systems maintenance.

According to The Associated Press, an engineer replaced the wrong file during routine maintenance, leading FAA staff on an intense hunt to find the problem as over 10,000 flights were delayed and another 1,300-plus were canceled on Wednesday.

“It was an honest mistake that cost the country millions,” an official told The AP.

Several major airlines in the U.S. told Reuters that they expect operations to return to normal on Thursday, but FlightAware.com is showing that over 600 flights have been delayed or canceled as of 8 a.m. ET.

As for how each carrier was impacted, 49 percent of Southwest Airlines flights were delayed, 48 percent for American Airlines, 40 percent for United, 38 percent for Delta and 33 percent for JetBlue.

For impacted travelers, Delta Air Lines is offering a fare difference waiver, which will give customers additional flexibility to change their flights, even if their journey isn’t delayed or canceled.

Update: January 11, 2023 at 1:40 p.m. ET

After a system failure with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded flights across the United States, the U.S. Travel Association is calling on the federal government to overhaul air travel infrastructure.

U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman issued a statement after more than 7,800 flights were delayed and over 1,100 were canceled due to issues with the Notice to Air Missions system (NOTAM).

“Today’s FAA catastrophic system failure is a clear sign that America’s transportation network desperately needs significant upgrades,” Freeman said. “Americans deserve an end-to-end travel experience that is seamless and secure.”

“And our nation’s economy depends on a best-in-class air travel system,” Freeman continued. “We call on federal policymakers to modernize our vital air travel infrastructure to ensure our systems are able to meet demand safely and efficiently.”

Update: January 11, 2023 at 9:40 a.m. ET

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Twitter that the full ground stop on U.S. flights has been lifted as tech teams continue to repair the downed Notice to Air Missions system (NOTAM).

The first flights allowed to take off again were at Newark Liberty International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which were experiencing the most delayed flights and congestion.

The FAA claims all other airports in the U.S. will be back online in the coming hours and has launched a full investigation into the cause of the overnight outage.

In addition, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Chair Senator Maria Cantwell also released a statement about the FAA computer issues:

“The number one priority is safety. As the Committee prepares for FAA reauthorization legislation, we will be looking into what caused this outage and how redundancy plays a role in preventing future outages. The public needs a resilient air transportation system.”

Original Text

A system failure with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday morning grounded flights across the United States, with flights to be grounded until at least 9:30 a.m. ET.

According to The New York Times, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said he was working with the FAA regarding “an outage affecting a key system for providing safety information to pilots.”

As a result, United Airlines temporarily delayed all domestic flights and American Airlines said the situation “impacts all airlines.” Both carriers said they have been in close contact with the FAA about the situation.

FlightAware.com is reporting that at least 1,230 flights within, into or out of the U.S. have been delayed so far this morning, as of 7:35 a.m. ET, with that number expected to climb as long as the FAA system shutdown continued.

“The FAA is working to resolve this issue swiftly and safely so that air traffic can resume normal operations, and will continue to provide updates,” Buttigieg continued.

Airports and airlines took to social media to share flight updates and warn travelers about potential delays upon arrival. Passengers are being warned to check with their airlines for the latest information.

Airlines for America (A4A) released a statement on the Federal Aviation Administration’s temporary ground stop:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has notified U.S. airlines through an ATC advisory that the FAA is experiencing a technology issue related to the Notice of Air Missions (NOTAM) system, which provides airlines with real time safety information for flight planning. This technology issue is causing significant operational delays across the National Airspace System. A4A is working with the FAA and awaiting further information regarding when these issues will be resolved.

For real time updates related to any potential delays or cancellations caused by the FAA’s system disruptions, travelers should download their airline’s app, visit the carrier’s website and ensure their contact information is accurate on travel records.

*This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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