Flights Resume After Nationwide Grounding From Computer Outage
The Federal Aviation Administration has announced that normal flight operations have resumed across the U.S. after flights were delayed nationwide for several hours Wednesday morning,
As it turns out, the issue was merely a glitch, with the FBI adding they see no evidence of a cyberattack, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
Grounded Flights Caused By Glitch In Computer System, Not A Cyberattack FBI Says
Meanwhile, the FAA shared that they will continue to look into the cause of the initial problem as the ground stops have been lifted, according to MSNBC.
The crippling delays, which affected thousands of flights across the country, appears to have been caused by an issue in the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system, which sends pilots crucial information they need to fly and land.
President Joe Biden immediately ordered an investigation after he was briefed on the situation by, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the outlet reports.
And Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wa.) – who also heads the Senate Commerce Committee that oversees the FAA – said they are similarly investigating the matter.
“The number one priority is safety,” Cantwell said in a statement. “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.”
One of those committee members, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, added the “FAA’s inability to keep an important safety system up and running is completely unacceptable and just the latest example of dysfunction within the Department of Transportation.”
The nationwide delays come just weeks after Southwest Airlines caused travel chaos during the holiday season after canceling more than 2,500 of its flights.
Thousands Of Angry Travelers Stranded Across The Country, With Over 6,500 Flights Delayed
While the FAA lifted the grounding order around 8:50 a.m. by then the damage was already done. Airports across the country were packed with angry travelers alongside a backlog of flights.
By 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, over 6,500 flights were delayed, the online flight tracker FlightAware reports, while more than 940 flights had been listed as canceled.
The FAA had initially sent out a tweet around 7:20 a.m. ordering all airlines to halt domestic departures until 9 a.m. EST “to allow the agency to validate the integrity of flight and safety information” as the agency worked to restore the NOTAM system.
Cause Of Delays Most Likely Stems From Bad Software Update, Cybersecurity Expert Says
They added that all flights already in the air would be safe to land, according to MSNBC.
“Pilots check the NOTAM system before they fly,” the agency said. “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.”
Cybersecurity experts tell NBC News that the cause was most likely a bad software update.