A computer outage at the Federal Aviation Administration caused flights to be delayed and canceled across the United States on Wednesday.
The FAA ordered all U.S. flights to delay departures until 9 a.m. Eastern, but airlines had already begun grounding flights due to the situation. According to flight tracking website FlightAware, at 7:30 a.m., there were over 1,200 delayed flights within, into, or out of the U.S., and more than 100 flights were cancelled.
The majority of delays were concentrated along the East Coast but were beginning to spread west. Miami International Airport’s spokesman Greg Chin reported that inbound international flights were continuing to land, but all departures have been delayed since 6:30 a.m. The FAA reported that it was working on restoring its Notice to Air Missions System (NOTAMs) and performing final validation checks and reloading the system.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a tweet that he was in touch with the FAA and monitoring the situation. United Airlines temporarily delayed all domestic flights and stated that it would issue an update once it learned more from the FAA.
The FAA stated that NOTAMs are required to be consulted by pilots before commencing a flight. This system used to be telephone-based, with pilots calling dedicated flight service stations for information, but it has now moved online. There was a potential for widespread disruption because of the outage since all aircraft are required to route through the system, including commercial and military flights. However, European flights into the U.S. appeared to be largely unaffected. The FAA promised to provide frequent updates as it made progress towards resolving the issue.
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