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FAA System Outage Disrupts Domestic Air Travel

The Federal Aviation Administration blamed the outage on an issue with its Notice to Air Mission system, which is a crucial component of all U.S. civilian and military flights that alerts pilots to hazards or other issues.

A traveler looks at a flight information board at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Jan. 11, 2023, in Arlington, Virginia. The FAA said it is gradually resuming flights around the country after an outage to the Notice to Air Mission System, a computer system that helps guide air traffic. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
Alex Wong/TNS
(TNS) — Flights resumed across the United States on Wednesday morning after they were temporarily grounded as a computer outage threatened to wreak havoc throughout the country’s airports.

The Federal Aviation Administration ordered domestic flights for most of the country’s airports grounded until 8 a.m. Hundreds — possibly thousands — of flights across the country are expected to be affected by delays or cancellations.

The FAA blamed the outage on an issue with its Notice to Air Mission — or NOTAM — system. The system is a crucial component of all civilian and military flights in the United States that alerts pilots to hazards or other issues they may experience during their departure, flight or arrival.

NOTAM warnings can include information about runway conditions, weather, airport construction or the presence of hazards — including drone, military or parachute activity — near an airplane’s flight path.

Before taking off, pilots should “always check” 25 nautical miles on either side of their flight path for NOTAMs that might affect their flights, according to the FAA.

The FAA initially ordered a ground stop for all domestic flights; but shortly after 7 a.m., the agency began allowing flights at two major airports — Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Newark Liberty International Airport — to begin departing due to air-traffic congestion.

The agency said at 7:15 a.m. it was “making progress in restoring its Notice to Air Missions system.”

President Joe Biden was briefed by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg about the system outage. “There is no evidence of a cyber attack at this point, but the President directed DOT to conduct a full investigation into the causes,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted.

©2023 The Dallas Morning News, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.