Flight disruptions ease after FAA failure, officials to investigate

Travelers as flights are canceled at Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA) in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., on Wednesday, January 11, 2023.

Nathan Howard | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Air travel disruptions eased on Thursday, a day after a severe failure of the safety alert system for pilots caused nearly half of US flights to be delayed.

The Federal Aviation Administration halted departures of US flights early Wednesday after a failure of the “Notice to Air Mission” system, which provides pilots and others with safety information such as runway hazards.

The FAA said a preliminary review traced the outage to a “corrupt database file.” Issues began Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. ET. Unable to fix the problem, the FAA rebooted the system and ordered the ground stop, which was lifted around 9 a.m. Wednesday.

This caused a cascade of US flight delays totaling 10,563, according to FlightAware. More than 1,300 flights have been cancelled. Nearly 500 Thursday flights were delayed in, out of and within the US, and 63 were scrubbed.

The outage and rare nationwide ground stop demonstrated once again how an outage of any of the many systems that support the US air system can so dramatically impact air travel for hundreds of thousands of passengers.

The incident happened just a few weeks after an internal Southwest Airlines The platform was overwhelmed after mass cancellations due to severe weather during the year-end holidays, leading to a days-long meltdown that the airline says could cost more than $800 million.

The FAA’s failure has sparked questions from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle and will likely lead to hearings and debates about additional funding for the US Federal Aviation Administration. Transport Secretary Pete Buttigieg announced an investigation.

“If there’s a problem with a system of government, it will be ours, we will find it and we will fix it,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

The FAA said there was no evidence of a cyber attack. According to a person familiar with the matter, both the primary and backup systems were supplied with the corrupted file.

“The FAA is working diligently to further isolate the causes of this issue and to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent this type of interference from reoccurring,” it said late Wednesday.

https://www.cnbc.com/2023/01/12/faa-notam-outage-flight-impact-eases.html Flight disruptions ease after FAA failure, officials to investigate

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