Chaos has gripped the US airline industry after a halt to all commercial flights was ordered due to a widespread system failure. This has caused thousands of planes and passengers are stranded on the ground in airports around the world without being able to take off.
As of 7 a.m. US time (1:00 p.m. Spanish time) there were more than 1,200 delayed flights within, to or from the US, according to flight tracking website FlightAware. An hour later there was already 3,700 delayed flights and another 640 cancelled.
It all started when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed that the United States Air Mission Notification (NOTAM) system was failing and announced the temporary grounding of all aircraft in the country. “The FAA is still working to fully restore the Air Mission Warning system.”
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.
We will provide frequent updates as we make progress.
— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) January 11, 2023
The Notam to All Air Missions, or NOTAM, system informs pilots of circumstances related to the status of the flight and is necessary before an aircraft can take off. It is responsible for sending real-time flight hazards and restrictions to pilots. These range from mundane information about airport construction to urgent flight blockades.
Before, these systems were available through a hotline, but they have changed with the advent of the Internet, so the failures are generalized to all computers and instantly.
Planes in the United States at 7 in the morning.
An official explained that the software problem developed last night and led to a chain of failures that culminated in the outage this morning. Meanwhile, the engineers they are working to fix the problem and identify precisely what happened, which is thus far unknown.
So far we know that it is a system error and not an intentional attack. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed in a tweet that President Joe Biden was briefed, saying “there is no evidence of a cyberattack at this time.” The latest FAA announcement states that flights are resuming their activity and that the hold signal has been lifted for the time being.
Image: Miguel Ángel Sanz (Unsplash)