Business & Economy

Thousands of US flights affected after system failure

Washington/New York, Jan 11 (EFE).- Thousands of flights were delayed or canceled Wednesday in the United States due to a failure in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notification system that caused chaos at airports across the country.

Despite the fact that the FAA had given the green light for the departures of the affected flights at 9 am local Eastern time (14:00 GMT), as of Wednesday there were still some 9,200 delayed flights and more than 1,300 canceled, according to the FlightAware website.

President Joe Biden ordered a full investigation by the Department of Transportation to find out the causes of the failure. According to the White House, there are no indications that it was caused by a cyberattack.

In a statement issued on Wednesday afternoon, the FAA said that the failure was likely due to a “damaged database file.”

“The FAA is continuing a thorough review to determine the root cause of the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system outage. Our preliminary work has traced the outage to a damaged database file. At this time, there is no evidence of a cyber attack,” it said.

The US also suffered flight chaos two weeks ago due to winter storm Elliot, which caused thousands of flight cancellations.

Wednesday was the first time since the attacks of Sep. 11, 2001 that the country’s authorities have prohibited domestic flight departures.

Around 7.25 am (12:25 GMT) the FAA ordered that domestic flight departures in the US be postponed until 9 am due to a failure in the NOTAM system.

This system provides essential information for personnel related to flight operations and warns in real time about any abnormal state in the US aerospace system.

The head of the US Travel Association, which represents the country’s largest airlines, Geoff Freeman said in a statement that “today’s FAA catastrophic system failure is a clear sign that America’s transportation network desperately needs significant upgrades.”

The relationship between the US government and the airlines is somewhat strained after the fiasco of Southwest Airlines, which after winter storm Elliot was unable to resume normal operations until several days later.

US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg then advised Southwest that his office would ensure that the company meets its obligations to its customers, such as issuing lodging and transportation vouchers and paying for meals.

Over the summer, a spate of flight cancellations led airlines to accuse the FAA of not employing enough air traffic controllers, hampering their operations.

The FAA said the airlines were using the agency as a scapegoat to justify their own staffing problems. EFE


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