All flights across the United States (US) were grounded on Wednesday morning after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) suffered a computer outage, forcing it to halt all departures nationwide while it worked to resolve the issue.
The FAA in a statement said that normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the US while it continued to look into the cause of the problem. But delays and cancellations had already spread across the country after the agency said its Notice to Air Missions, or NOTAM, system had “failed.”
According to the online flight tracker FlightAware, over 4,900 flights within, to, and out of the US were delayed as of 3 pm on Wednesday, while 868 have been canceled as the effects in the aviation industry will continue to linger for some time.
The chaos was caused by an overnight outage to the Notice to Air Missions system that provides safety info to flight crews.
Air traffic operations resuming gradually
The FAA in its statement said, “Normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the US following an overnight outage to the Notice to Air Missions system that provides safety info to flight crews.
“The ground stop has been lifted. We continue to look into the cause of the initial problem.”
Earlier it said “final validation checks” were being carried out and the system reloaded after “operations across the National Airspace System” were affected.
The FAA had in a tweet just before 7:20 am, said that it was ordering airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9 a.m. ET “to allow the agency to validate the integrity of flight and safety information” as it worked to restore the NOTAM system.
In subsequent updates, it said that all flights in the sky were safe to land.
It said, “Pilots check the NOTAM system before they fly. A Notice to Air Missions alerts pilots about closed runways, equipment outages, and other potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the flight.’’
No evidence of a cyberattack
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a tweet that there was “no evidence of a cyberattack at this point,” and added that President Joe Biden had directed the Department of Transportation to conduct a full investigation into the causes. She added: “The FAA will provide regular updates.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a tweet that he had “been in touch with FAA this morning about an outage affecting a key system for providing safety information to pilots.”
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