A system failure at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday resulted in over 1,230 flights being delayed across the US.According to flight tracking website FlightAware, 103 additional flights in the United States were also cancelled.
In a tweet, the FAA said, “Normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the U.S. following an overnight outage to the Notice to Air Missions system that provides safety info to flight crews. The ground stop has been lifted.”
Airlines were instructed by the FAA to postpone all domestic departures until 9 am ET (1400 GMT) so that the agency could verify the accuracy of flight and safety data. Several airports advised travellers to check with their airlines for the most recent information, including those in Austin, Florida, Tampa, and Philadelphia.
The White House has, however, ruled out a cyber attack as the cause of the FAA system outage. However, President Joe Biden reportedly ordered an investigation, according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. At the White House, Biden told reporters, “Aircraft can still land safely, but they can’t take off right now.”
All domestic flights, according to United Airlines, have been temporarily delayed, but Lufthansa and Air France both stated that they were still running flights to and from the United States.
The FAA announced that it was working to reactivate the system that warns pilots of hazards and changes to airport facilities and procedures after it stopped processing updated information amid delays at airports across the nation caused by “ground stops.” An airport ground stop is a technique used to slow or stop aircraft in order to manage air traffic.
“The FAA is still working to fully restore the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system following an outage. While some functions are beginning to come back on line, National Airspace System operations remain limited,” it said on Twitter.
Information critical to staff involved with flight operations can be found in a NOTAM. For long-haul flights, the information can be up to 200 pages long and may include things like runway closures and bird hazard warnings.