FAA air system that failed and caused delays in thousands of flights is almost 30 years old
The investigation found that the software that crashed and grounded thousands of flights on Wednesday is 30 years old and is not scheduled to be updated for another six years, creating an environment of uncertainty.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said its preliminary analysis of a computer system outage on Wednesday that caused a 90-minute national grounding stoppage and disrupted more than 11,000 flights was due to a procedural flaw.
However, during the investigation it was found that the software that failed and forced the FAA to ground thousands of flights on Wednesday is 30 years old and is not scheduled to be updated for another six years, according to a senior government official.
FAA operations are back to normal, and we are seeing no unusual delays or cancellations this morning.— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) January 12, 2023
According to NBC News, this system was installed in 1993 and runs the Notice to Air Missions, or NOTAM, system, which sends pilots vital information they need to fly, the official said.
After the FAA was able to get the planes flying again, a government official said a corrupted file that affected both the main and backup NOTAM systems appeared to be to blame.
Investigators are working to determine whether human error or malice is to blame for disabling the system, which eight contract employees had access to. At least one, perhaps two, of those contractors made the edit that corrupted the system, two government sources said Thursday.
The FAA is working to restore its Notice to Air Missions System. We are performing final validation checks and reloading the system now.— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) January 11, 2023
Operations across the National Airspace System are affected.
We will provide frequent updates as we make progress.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told NBC News that he has asked the FAA "to make sure that there are enough safeguards built into the system so that this level of disruption cannot occur due to the decision, action or error of a person”.
Tens of thousands of travelers were stranded Wednesday after the FAA sent out a tweet ordering airlines to suspend all domestic departures for at least two hours “to allow the agency to validate the integrity of safety and flight information” as worked to restore the NOTAM system.
Later, the FAA lifted the ground stop and normal air traffic operations began to gradually resume. But by then, airports across the country were already packed with frustrated travelers and a backlog of flights.