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Flights nationwide grounded due to FAA system outage preventing pilots from receiving real-time safety alerts

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Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

Early Wednesday morning, thousands of flights within, into, and out of the United States were grounded following a Federal Aviation Administration system outage that prevented pilots, airlines, and airports from getting safety information, the New York Times reported.

According to flight tracking data from FlightAware, more than 4,600 flights were delayed and another 567 were canceled.

The FAA noted that an unexplained overnight outage impacted its Notice to Air Missions alerts, a system that delivers real-time safety alerts to pilots. The notifications are crucial for flight planning, updating pilots on potential hazards, including closed runways, restrictions, and disruptions to navigational systems.

The agency announced that flights from most airports are expected to resume Wednesday morning.

“The FAA has ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9 a.m. Eastern Time to allow the agency to validate the integrity of flight and safety information,” the FAA wrote on Twitter.

Around 9 a.m. Eastern, the FAA stated, “Normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the U.S. following an overnight outage to the Notice to Air Missions system that provides safety info to flight crews. The ground stop has been lifted.”

American Airlines reported that the incident impacted all airlines and that the company was “working with the F.A.A. to minimize disruption to our operation and customers.”

United Airlines responded to the outage by temporarily delaying all domestic flights.

A Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport spokesperson told the Times that “more than 13,000 local passengers and more than 43,000 total passengers” were impacted by the delays.

The FAA noted that it is still investigating what caused the system outage.

According to the White House, there was no evidence that a cyberattack caused the issue. However, the Department of Transportation has been asked to launch a “full investigation” into the situation.

“I have been in touch with FAA this morning about an outage affecting a key system for providing safety information to pilots. FAA is working to resolve this issue swiftly and safely so that air traffic can resume normal operations, and will continue to provide updates,” Pete Buttigieg, secretary of transportation, wrote on Twitter.
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