A computer outage at the Federal Aviation Administration brought flights to a standstill across the US on Wednesday, reports the AP, with hundreds of delays quickly cascading through the system at airports nationwide. The FAA ordered all US flights to delay departures until 9am Eastern, though airlines said they were aware of the situation and had already begun grounding flights. At 7:30am Eastern, there were more than 1,200 delayed flights within, into, or out of the United States, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware. More than 100 have been canceled. Most delays were concentrated along the East Coast, but were beginning to spread west. Inbound international flights into Miami International Airport continued to land, but all departures have been delayed since 6:30am, said airport spokesman Greg Chin.
The FAA said it was working on restoring its Notice to Air Missions System. “We are performing final validation checks and reloading the system now,” the FAA said. “Operations across the National Airspace System are affected.” The agency said that some functions are beginning to come back online, but that “National Airspace System operations remain limited.” Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a tweet that he is in touch with the FAA and monitoring the situation. United Airlines said that it had temporarily delayed all domestic flights and would issue an update once it learned more from the FAA.
The FAA is working to restore what is known as the Notice to Air Missions System. Before commencing a flight, pilots are required to consult NOTAMs, or Notices to Air Missions, which list potential adverse impacts on flights, from runway construction to the potential for icing. The system used to be telephone-based, with pilots calling dedicated flight service stations for the information, but has now moved online. There is a potential for widespread disruption because of the outage. All aircraft are required to route through the system, including commercial and military flights. European flights into the US appeared to be largely unaffected. (Read more Federal Aviation Administration stories.)