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FAA computer outage causing flight disruptions in US, domestic departures paused


A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) system that provides pilots with notices they need to read before flying is experiencing an outage, and this is affecting flights in the United States. More delays are expected if the problem is not fixed.

“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 agency tweeted early Wednesday morning.

It wasn’t unclear how many flights would be affected because some airlines may be able to operate without information from the system, known as the Notice to Air Missions System (NOTAMs).

However, flight tracking website FlightAware showed around 1,200 delayed flights within, into, or out of the US just before 7 am Eastern time. Most of the delays were concentrated on the East Coast.

The FAA later said it was still working on the issue – some functions were beginning to come back online, but operations across American airspace remained limited. Finally, the FAA said it had ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9 am.

American Airlines also said in a Twitter reply that the outage was “impacting all flights including all carriers.” The company is asking for patience as the issue is important – the NOTAMs provides critical flight safety operation information.

General Mitchell International airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, urged travelers to check flight information before heading out, as did a number of other US airports and airlines. United Airlines, for instance, said that it had temporarily delayed all domestic flights.

The Washington Post reported earlier that the FAA held an urgent conference call early Wednesday and said there was no nationwide ground stop at that time. Individual carriers or pilots, an official said, could choose whether they want to fly. The FAA said the outage began at 8:28 pm Universal Time on Tuesday.

NOTAMs used to be available through a hotline, but that was phased out with the internet. The alerts range from mundane information about construction at airports to urgent flight restrictions or broken equipment.

The Associated Press news agency also said the potential for widespread disruption was big because military flights must also route through the system.


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