Computer error grounds all flights in the US: Things to know

A computer outage at the Federal Aviation Administration brought flights to a standstill across the US on Wednesday (January 11), with hundreds of delays quickly cascading through the system at airports nationwide. The FAA ordered all US flights to delay departures until at least 9 am, though airlines said they were aware of the situation and had already begun grounding flights.
What is FAA
The FAA is the US government agency which oversees many aspects of America’s aviation, including air traffic management.
What has caused the glitch
The exact nature of the computer issue is yet to be disclosed. The snag is reportedly affecting the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system, which provides pilots with real-time information about changes and potential hazards on flight routes. “The FFA system that sends out important real-time flight hazards and restrictions to all commercial airline pilots – Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) – is currently suffering a nationwide outage,” United Airlines said in a statement.
“The FAA is working to restore its Notice to Air Missions System. We are performing final validation checks and reloading the system now. Operations across the National Airspace System are affected,” the FAA said in a tweet. “The FAA is still working to fully restore the Notice to Air Missions system following an outage. The FAA has ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9 a.m. Eastern Time to allow the agency to validate the integrity of flight and safety information,” it added in another.
Flights affected
More than 21,000 flights were scheduled to take off in the US today, mostly domestic trips, and about 1,840 international flights expected to fly to the US, according to aviation data firm Cirium.
Medical and military flights safe
Some medical flights can get clearance and the outage is not impacting military operations. Flights for the US military’s Air Mobility Command had not been impacted, said Air Force Colonel Damien Pickart, a spokesman for Air Mobility Command is responsible for all the troop movement and supply flights, such as the C-17s that carry the president’s motorcade vehicles when he travels, but also all the flights that transport troops from one base to another. Air Mobility Command was working with the FAA on the issue.
No clarity on cyber attack
While the White House initially said that there is no evidence of a cyberattack, President Joe Biden said “we don’t know” and told reporters he’s directed the Department of Transportation to investigate the cause of the disruption. “The President has been briefed by the Secretary of Transportation this morning on the FAA system outage. There is no evidence of a cyberattack at this point, but the President directed DOT to conduct a full investigation into the causes. The FAA will provide regular updates,” said Karine Jean-Pierre, US Press secretary.



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