Flights Resume After FAA Computer Caused Grounding Across the U.S.

January 11, 2023

Flights began to depart from airports across the U.S. after a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) computer outage had caused more than 1,200 domestic flights to be grounded for roughly two hours.

Outbound domestic flights were grounded at airports starting at roughly 7am Eastern time and resumed shortly before 9am. 

While the FAA was making progress rebooting the system, flights resumed at Newark’s and Atlanta’s airports at roughly 8:15am Eastern Time due to the congestion they were experiencing.

All inbound flights already en route to their destinations had been deemed safe to land throughout the situation.

The FAA tweeted out at 8:50am Eastern Time, “Normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the U.S. following an overnight outage to the Notice to Air Missions system that provides safety info to flight crews. The ground stop has been lifted. We continue to look into the cause of the initial problem.”

The White House had initially said that there is no evidence of a cyberattack, but then President Biden, in the 8am hour, said “we don’t know” and told reporters he had directed the Department of Transportation (DOT) to investigate the cause of the disruption.

Biden spoke with reporters before leaving the White House to accompany his wife to a medical procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside of Washington. He said he had just been briefed by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

Buttigieg had tweeted at 7:01am, saying, “I have been in touch with FAA this morning about an outage affecting a key system for providing safety information to pilots. FAA is working to resolve this issue swiftly and safely so that air traffic can resume normal operations, and will continue to provide updates.”

NBC News Aviation Analyst John Cox said on MSNBC to expect a “ripple effect” of delays and cancelations that will go “well into tomorrow and possibly into the day after.”

More than 21,000 flights were scheduled to take off in the U.S. on Wednesday, mostly domestic trips, and about 1,840 international flights were expected to fly to the U.S., according to aviation data firm Cirium.

The outage and nationwide grounding Wednesday morning came as the DOT was investigating and the U.S. Senate was set to hold hearings on the thousands of flight cancellations by Southwest Airlines that left travelers stranded at airports when a massive winter storm swept across the country during December’s holiday travel week.

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