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Home » FAA System Outage Causes Halt in US Flight Departures

FAA System Outage Causes Halt in US Flight Departures

11 January 2023, Wednesday
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Wednesday halted the departures of all domestic flights in the US due to a failure of its pre-flight safety notices system. The FAA released a statement saying that airlines were asked to hold flights until 9AM Eastern Time as the agency attempted to fix the Notice to Air Missions System (NOTAMS).

The Federal Aviation Administration has reported that a system outage has caused significant operational delays across the National Airspace System. They reported that final validation checks and repopulation of the system is now underway.

Airlines for America, the association representing the US airlines, said that the outage is causing "significant operational delays". The FAA has stated they will provide frequent updates as they move forward.

United Airlines has postponed all its domestic flights for a period of time. American Airlines has stated that it is watching the current situation attentively, which affects all carriers and is collaborating with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to reduce the impact on its operation and customers.

President Joe Biden said he has been briefed on the situation and has been in contact with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. He informed reporters as he left the White House that he just talked to Buttigieg. The cause of the current restriction on take-offs is yet unknown, but the President has instructed Buttigieg to let him know as soon as they understand what it is. Landings are still safe to carry out, though. It is expected that within a couple of hours they will have a better idea of the cause, and will respond accordingly.

Biden has ordered an investigation by the Department of Transportation after a system issue at the Federal Aviation Administration caused flight delays and cancellations across the United States on Thursday. 

Asked if it was the result of a cyberattack, Biden said, “They don’t know. They will find out.” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has said that there is “no evidence of a cyberattack at this point.” 

The tracking website FlightAware reported nearly 3,600 flights as delayed and 462 flights canceled as of 8:15 a.m. ET.

Flights bound for the U.S. were still departing from Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport and Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport, despite the current situation. A Schiphol Airport spokesperson informed CNN that a "workaround had been issued" and take-offs were still taking place. The Charles de Gaulle press office said there were no cancellations, but delays were anticipated. Frankfurt Airport, meanwhile, claimed it had not been affected. A spokesperson from London's Heathrow Airport reported to CNN that, according to passenger reports, there had been significant delays, though there were no known cancellations and recent flights to the U.S. had gone off without a hitch.

Shabnam Amini told CNN that she and other passengers had been on board American Airlines flight 51 to Dallas from Heathrow for close to three hours due to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) outage. They had been previously informed that there would be delays, but they still boarded the plane.

Airline pilots use NOTAMS (Notice to Airmen) to get real-time information on flight risks and restrictions. The FAA specifies that NOTAMS should not be used as the only source of information, so some flights may be able to satisfy safety criteria by utilizing other data.

An additional misfortune has befallen US air transportation just weeks after a vast winter tempest over the end-of-year festivities resulted in calamitous outcomes for a great many travelers due to a Southwest Airlines collapse. Wednesday's episode is the second imperative emergency to affect US flying as of late.
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