jacksonville, florida – Thousands of flights across the United States were canceled or delayed Wednesday after government systems that provide safety and other information to pilots malfunctioned, leaving some planes stranded on the ground for hours.
This breakdown showed how much American air travel relied on antiquated computer systems that generate alerts called NOTAMs (or notices to air missions) to pilots and others.
Before a flight takes off, pilots and airline dispatchers should review notices containing details about weather, runway closures or construction, and other information that may affect the flight. The system was once telephone-based, with pilots seeking information from a dedicated flight service station, but has gone online.
The NOTAM system malfunctioned late Tuesday and was not fixed until Wednesday morning, according to flight tracking website FlightAware, causing more than 1,200 flights to be canceled and more than 8,500 delays by early afternoon on the east coast. Did.
The disruption was expected to linger even after the Federal Aviation Administration lifted the aircraft grounding order. More than 21,000 flights were scheduled to take off in the US on Wednesday, mostly domestic travel, with about 1,840 international flights expected to fly to the US, according to aviation data firm Cirium.
A passenger News4JAX spoke to at Jacksonville International Airport on Wednesday said he didn’t know about the ground stop until just before boarding the plane.
“They just said everything was grounded.
Graham was at the gate with a bag in hand when he learned about a nationwide ground stop order that has led to thousands of flight cancellations and delays.
Lydia Kite, who was flying to Honolulu, said, “They acted like everything was fine, but when you stood there they said, ‘You’re going to get stuck.
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The White House said there was no evidence that a cyberattack caused a shutdown and upended the travel plans of millions of passengers.President Joe Biden said he had directed the Department of Transportation to investigate.
“They don’t know what’s causing it. They expect to figure out what’s causing it in a few hours and then respond at that point,” Biden said.
Per the FAA’s advisory, the NOTAM system failed at 8:28 PM Tuesday, preventing new or corrected notices from being distributed to pilots. The FAA used a phone hotline to keep departing flights flying through the night, but as traffic increased during the day, the phone system was overwhelmed.
The FAA ordered a suspension of all outgoing flights early Wednesday morning, affecting all passenger and cargo flights. did not give
“If it’s as simple as a particular computer component failing in a major data center, we can get back to business as usual,” says aviation expert and pilot Ed Booth. “But if this is revealed, the system is vulnerable to outside interference. If this is the result of a denial-of-service attack, it is a serious problem, and how to harden the system in a timely manner is serious.” I think it will be a real challenge.”
Booth showed News4JAX what his NOTAM screen would look like on Wednesday, showing a flight plan to leave Jacksonville. At that particular point, NOTAM warned of runway closures, maintenance issues, and airspace restrictions. He said the FAA system is very important to airplane pilots.
“They’re required to verify this information as part of FAA regulations. If they don’t, they do so at their own risk,” Booth said. “As you know, the airline has sent a department to do this and briefed the pilots.”
Some state senators are calling for legislative reform of the FAA after Wednesday’s mass suspensions and cancellations.
It was the latest headache for U.S. travelers facing weather-related flight cancellations over the New Year holidays and a major Southwest Airlines outage.
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