Pilots expressed frustration over the Federal Aviation Administration's latest budget framework that allocates millions of dollars toward "inclusive" language, "racial equity," "environmental justice," and "climate change" but neglects to address much-needed system updates that could have prevented the recent system outage this week, Fox News Digital reported.
On Wednesday, the FAA experienced an outage to its Notice to Air Mission alerts, which provides pilots with crucial, real-time safety information about potential hazards. The system failure resulted in the grounding of more than 4,600 flights within, into, and out of the United States.
According to KTTV, the system outage was caused by a "damaged database file." As a result, the FAA rebooted the system early Wednesday morning, but it did not come back online as quickly as anticipated, ultimately leading to the massive flight delays.
The FAA requested approximately $29.4 million for its Aeronautical Information Management Program, which includes outdating the NOTAM system.
A government source told CNN that the NOTAM system is 30 years old but estimates that an update is nearly six years away.
"Because of budgetary concerns and flexibility of budget, this tech refresh has been pushed off," a source told CNN. "I assume now they're going to actually find money to do it. The FAA's infrastructure is a lot more than just brick and mortar."
However, the agency's 2023 budget outlines a plan to invest "an additional $20 million above the 2021 enacted level for the office of the secretary to lead [Department of Transportation] DOT's efforts to promote equity and inclusion." It also allocates funds towards "climate change," "inclusion," "racial equity," and "environmental justice."
JP Tristani, an aviation expert, veteran, and pilot, told Fox News Digital, "Ridiculous, neither the DOT nor FAA should be involved with being a social 'petri dish' investing in such nonsense."
"My interest was/remains, the safety of my aircraft, my training and that of my copilot, the route I'm flying and the only 'climate change' I am interested in is the weather along the route," Tristani added.
Aviation lawyer Sal Lagonia told Fox News Digital, "The spending on non-essential issues within the agency does nothing to help these technological blunders."
The NOTAM system was previously called Notice to Airman but was changed to Notice to Air Mission in December 2021 under Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to be "inclusive of all aviators and missions."
According to Lagonia, the name change costs "a great deal of money" that could have been used for critical technological updates.
"Recently, the agency spent a great deal of money and effort to take the word 'man' out of the title and instead call it 'Notices to Air Missions,'" Lagonia said. "Documents had to be changed, to the new name, etc. Spend that effort and money on bolstering the systems that makes and keeps flying safe."
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