FAA Computer Failure Causes Travel Nightmare: 4,000 Flights Delayed but What Really Happened?

Ashley Hunte
An airplane flying through the sky.
Unsplash | John McArthur

Airports across the US are resuming their normal functions following an hours-long outage to the FAA's computer system early Wednesday morning.

President Joe Biden ordered an investigation into the outage, but the cause remains unknown. While a cyberattack has not been ruled out, there remains "no evidence" of one at this time.

Just Before 9 AM Eastern Standard Time, The FAA Announced That The System Is Back Online.

Both through a statement on their official government website and a Twitter update on their official account, the FAA declared that, while they continue to look into the issues, air traffic has returned to its normal capacity.

Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre Also Took To Twitter To Provide Updates.

"There is no evidence of a cyberattack at this point," the Tweet reads. Jean-Pierre also mentions that the Department of Transportation is conducting a full investigation at the direction of the President.

Issues Began To Arise In The Early Morning Hours.

An airplane grounded at an airport.
Unsplash | Ivan Shimko

The FAA's NOTAMS system reportedly failed early in the morning, and officials had to perform a hard reset around 2 AM EST.

Not Long After That, Passengers Were Affected.

A timetable showing airplane departure/arrival data.
Unsplash | Matthew Smith

The Daily Mail reports that passengers were being alerted of delayed and canceled flights as early as 4 AM EST, but the FAA did not issue their first update until around 6:30.

Over 6000 Flights Were Delayed As A Result.

Several grounded airplanes.
Unsplash | AJ Yorio

In addition, at least 1000 flights were canceled in the two-and-a-half hours that the systems were down.

It Might Take A While For Flight Departures To Return To Normal.

An airplane flying against a sunrise.
Unsplash | Ross Parmly

Meanwhile, several US airlines experienced drops in their stocks in the early morning, though their values returned to normal by the beginning of the work day.

This Event Marks The First Time American Flights Have Been Grounded Since 9/11.

An airplane in the middle of a takeoff.
Unsplash | Kevin Woblick

As the system failure was nationwide, airplanes in all American airports were grounded, making it a first in more than two decades since 9/11.

It Also Happened Just Weeks After Widespread Travel Delays Over The Holiday Season.

An airplane full of passengers.
Unsplash | Suhyeon Choi

A severe winter storm that occurred just days before Christmas caused widespread flight delays and cancellations, particularly with Southwest Airlines. The issues resulted in thousands of stranded travelers in airports across the country over the nation's busiest travel season.

More And More Americans Are Beginning To Take Flight.

A man watching airplane data on screens in a busy airport.
Unsplash | Anete Lūsiņa

In the years since the pandemic began in 2020, travel is slowly getting back to normal, despite the issues that have arisen in airports.

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