Gradually Resuming After Computer Outage Grounds Planes
January 12, 2023
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday normal air traffic
operations are gradually resuming across the United States after a malfunction
affected one of its computer systems, delaying 5,400 flights and cancelling
The FAA had earlier ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures for
several hours due to an issue with its Notice to Air Missions System but now
says the “ground stop has been lifted.” Military flights in the U.S. were not
The White House initially said that there was no evidence of a cyberattack. But
President Joe Biden said "we don't know" the cause of the computer outage. He
told reporters he's directed the Department of Transportation to investigate the
cause of the disruption.
Biden early Wednesday said he had just been briefed by Transportation Secretary
Pete Buttigieg, who told him they still had not identified what went wrong.
"I just spoke to Buttigieg. They don't know what the cause is. But I was on the
phone with him about 10 minutes," Biden said. "I told him to report directly to
me when they find out. Air traffic can still land safely, just not take off
“We continue to look into the cause of the initial problem,” the FAA tweeted.
“I have been in touch with FAA this morning about an outage affecting a key
system for providing safety information to pilots,” Buttigieg tweeted after the
problem was first reported.
Before taking off, pilots are required to consult NOTAMs, or Notice to Air
Missions, which list potential adverse impacts on flights, from runway
construction to the potential for icing. The system once was telephone-based,
with pilots calling dedicated flight service stations for the information but
has now moved online.
Breakdowns in the NOTAM system appear to be rare.
"I don't ever remember the NOTAM system going down like this. I've been flying
53 years," John Cox, a former airline pilot and now an aviation-safety
consultant, told The Associated Press.
to FAA advisories, the NOTAM system first failed at 8:28 p.m. Eastern time on
Tuesday, which prevented new or amended notices from being distributed to
pilots. The FAA resorted to a telephone hotline to keep departures flying
overnight, but as daytime traffic picked up it overwhelmed the telephone backup
Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said the U.S. military flights were not
impacted because the military has its own NOTAMS system separate from the FAA
system and the military's system was not affected by the outage.
European flights into the U.S. appeared to be largely unaffected.
Geoff Freeman, president of the U.S. Travel Association, which represents all
components of the travel industry, said in a statement, “Today’s FAA
catastrophic system failure is a clear sign that America’s transportation
network desperately needs significant upgrades.”
“Americans deserve an end-to-end travel experience that is seamless and secure,”
he said. “And our nation’s economy depends on a best-in-class air travel system.
We call on federal policymakers to modernize our vital air travel infrastructure
to ensure our systems are able to meet demand safely and efficiently.”