FAA Failure

A traveler looks at a flight information display listing cancelled and delayed flights due to an FAA outage that grounded flights across the US at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, January 11, 2023. - The US Federal Aviation Authority said Wednesday that normal flight operations "are resuming gradually" across the country following an overnight systems outage that grounded departures. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP) (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
A traveler looks at a flight information display listing cancelled and delayed flights due to an FAA outage that grounded flights across the US at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, January 11, 2023. – The US Federal Aviation Authority said Wednesday that normal flight operations “are resuming gradually” across the country following an overnight systems outage that grounded departures. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN Shannon Kelland
UPDATED 12:41PM PT – Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Flights are resuming departures after the first national grounding in approximately two decades. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) scurried to fix a system outage overnight that had forced a halt to all departing flights in the United States.

Over 7,300 flights were delayed and 1,100 flights were canceled according to the FlightAware website.

The cause for the failure of the pilot-alerting system is unclear. The system is meant to distribute notices to pilots on hazards, including from snow, volcanic ash or birds near an airport. It also provides pilots with information on closed runways and temporary air restrictions.

The Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg (D-In.) said the ground stop was the “right call” in order to make sure messages were moving correctly and to ensure that there was no threat of a cyberattack.

“There’s been no direct evidence or indication of that, but we are also not going rule that out until we have a clear and better understanding of what’s taken place,” he said. 

The FAA had ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures after the system crashed in order to perform a hard reset around 2 a.m. EST. Flights already in route were allowed to continue to their destinations.

Normal operations are currently resuming. However, delays from the ground stop continue with over 8,000 flights delayed nationwide. Even though it is safe to fly, this system failure will cause a ripple effect in transportation.

Several airlines have reported that the total of delayed air traffic was still rising and the outage could potentially cause delays through at least Thursday, if not longer.

Vice president of the Allied Pilots Association, Chris Torres, believes the outage could impact traffic through Friday.

Airlines are facing other issues due to the delay, such as trying to get planes in and out of crowded gates, and crew time limit rules which is adding further to delays.

During an interview Buttigieg was asked if the outage is an indication that the FAA’s system is out of date. He responded by saying that is one of the “key questions” officials need to look at.

The FAA system is nearly a century-old practice. It was originally known as Notices to Airmen that was modeled on a system for notices to mariners. The NOTAM’s sent by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration are part of a global safety system managed through the United Nations’ aviation agency.

President of the U.S. Travel Association, Geoff Freeman made a statement on his point of view of the FAA’s technology systems and called for improvements.

“America’s transportation network desperately needs significant upgrades,” he said.

“We call on federal policymakers to modernize our vital air travel infrastructure,” Freeman also stated.

The FAA recently ran into another significant computer issue on January 2nd. That issue also resulted in significant delays for flights in Florida.

Data has been reported that a total of 21,464 U.S. flights were scheduled to depart Wednesday with a capacity of nearly 2.9 million passengers. Even though it is not as busy as the recent holiday season, there are still heightened amounts of travels as we have entered a post-pandemic era.

Airlines are encouraging travelers to check their flight status online or via the airline’s apps to properly prepare for travel. Some airlines, such as Southwest, have also issued a waiver allowing travelers to change their flights.

“As a result of the FAA’s outage, we anticipate some schedule adjustments will be made throughout the day,” Southwest airline said.