Checking in for a flight at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered airlines to suspend all domestic departures due to a system outage in Atlanta, Georgia, January 11, 2023 American Airlines passengers waiting for
Alyssa Pointer | Reuters
The Federal Aviation Administration has told lawmakers it has made a series of changes to prevent a repeat of the computer system outage that disrupted more than 11,000 U.S. flights on Jan. 11.
Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen wrote in a letter dated Friday and confirmed by Reuters on Monday that the FAA has made changes to its system to prevent corrupted files from damaging backup databases.
Last week, the FAA told lawmakers that it had revoked access to its pilot message database by contractor personnel who unintentionally deleted files in its air mission notification database.
Attempts to restore these files caused the outage, according to Nolen’s letter, and since then the FAA has employed a one-hour delay in synchronizing the databases so that data errors quickly reach the backup database. should be prevented.
The FAA also states that “currently, at least two people, including one federal administrator, must be present during maintenance of the NOTAM system.”
Reuters previously reported some of the upgrades. The FAA’s action was the first nationwide outbound flight ground stop since the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attack on the United States.
The NOTAM system provides important safety notices to pilots, crew members, and other users of US airspace.
The NOTAM system consists of two interdependent systems, according to the FAA letter. One is the 30-year-old legacy US NOTAM system, and the other is the new federal NOTAM system, which has been called the cornerstone of the ongoing modernization effort.
The primary and backup databases are located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and two additional backup databases are located in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The FAA will begin modernizing the NOTAM system in 2019, stating, “We plan to retire the legacy U.S. NOTAM system by mid-2025. Phase 2 of the NOTAM system modernization is expected to be completed in 2030.” the letter said.
The FAA said it has conducted three assessments of the system since 2020, including the latest in October.