A corrupted file is responsible for delaying thousands of flights due to FAA air traffic shutdowns

Flights across the US resumed after several hours on Wednesday morning Federal Aviation Administration A victim Computer crash While it scrambled to resolve the issue, it was forced to halt all nationwide departures.

The crippling delays affecting thousands of flights appear to have been caused by a problem with the Notice to Air Traffic Control (NOTAM) system, which sends pilots vital information they need to fly.

The corrupted file affected both the primary and backup systems, a senior government official said on Wednesday evening, adding that officials are continuing to investigate.

“The FAA is continuing a thorough review to determine the root cause of the Notification of Air Traffic (NOTAM) system malfunction,” the agency said in a statement. “Our preliminary work has identified a malfunction in a damaged database file. Currently, there is no evidence of a cyber attack.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said earlier in the day that officials had not completely ruled out the possibility of a cyber attack, but so far there was “no direct indication of any external or malicious activity.”

“One of the questions we have to look at now, and one of the things I’m asking from the FAA, is what is the state of the art in this type of message traffic?” Buttigieg told NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell. “Again, how is it possible for this amount of disruption?”

President Joe Biden ordered the investigation after being briefed on the situation by ButiGeek.

Sen., who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee that oversees the FAA. Rep. Maria Cantwell, D-Wa., said she is also looking into the matter.

“The No. 1 priority is safety,” Cantwell said in a statement. “As the committee prepares for FAA reauthorization legislation, we will examine what caused this outage and how the outage can play a role in preventing future outages. The public needs a flexible aviation system,” he said.

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Meanwhile, the top Republicans in that group Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, said the FAA’s “inability to keep a critical safety system operating is completely unacceptable and the latest example of the Department of Transportation’s dysfunction.”

Delays came weeks later Southwest Airlines It caused travel chaos by canceling more than 2,500 of its flights over the Christmas season.

Buttigieg, in his interview with Mitchell, acknowledged passengers’ frustrations, but said safety always comes first.

“It’s an incredibly complex system,” Buttigieg said. “So glitches or issues happen all the time. But we can never allow this level of disruption, and we won’t allow it to lead to a security issue.

Around 8:50 a.m. the FAA lifted the ground stop and normal air traffic operations gradually resumed. But by then airports across the country were already overflowing with frustrated passengers and a backlog of flights.

As of noon, the online flight tracker reported that more than 7,300 flights in and out of the United States had been delayed. FlightAware. More than 1,100 flights are listed as cancelled.

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Stranded passengers at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport greeted the latest flight ban with a collective shrug.

Teresa Ziakas told NBC News. “I’d rather be safe and sound than worry about being two hours late.”

Traveler Martin Johansson echoed that.

“The flights are delayed,” Johansen said as he waited with his wife, Barbara. “That’s life, so you get used to it.”

Anyone whose flight is canceled is entitled to a full refund. DOT guidelines state. and major domestic airlines such as American Airlines, United Airlines And Delta said it would waive fees for passengers who want to rebook flights.

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The first indication that this could be a major incident was when the FAA tweeted around 7:20 a.m. ordering airlines to suspend all domestic departures until 9 a.m. to allow the agency to verify the integrity of the flight and safety. Info” worked to restore the NOTAM system.

The FAA said all planes already in the sky are safe to land.

“Pilots check the NOTAM system before flying,” the agency said. “Notification for flights alerts pilots of closed runways, equipment malfunctions and other hazards on the flight path or location that could affect flight.”

As the drama unfolded, cybersecurity experts told NBC News that a botched software update was the likely cause.

“Today’s FAA catastrophic system failure is a clear indication that America’s transportation network needs significant upgrades,” said Jeff Freeman, president and CEO of the American Travel Association, in a statement. “Americans deserve a seamless and safe travel experience. And our nation’s economy depends on a best-in-class air travel system.

“We call on federal policymakers to modernize our critical air travel infrastructure to ensure our systems meet needs safely and efficiently,” he said.

Boutique said in A Tweet “He was in contact with the FAA this morning about a malfunction affecting a critical system that provides safety information to pilots.”

United Airlines earlier said it had temporarily delayed all domestic flights, while Southwest Airlines said it was “monitoring closely” but warned customers to brace themselves for travel complications.

Soon, major airports followed suit.

“FAA system malfunction causes ground shutdown at AUS and other airports across the country,” Austin-Bergstrom International Airport said. Tweet.

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“Arriving and departing passengers can expect delays this morning and throughout the day,” it said, adding: “Please stay in touch with your airline and check your flight status before traveling to AUS.”

Flights over the US at 7 a.m. ET Wednesday.
Flights over the US at 7 a.m. ET Wednesday. Flight Awareness

Many social media users said they were affected by the situation.

Heather Allen, 32, was traveling from New York City to Seattle with her fiancé to visit family for a belated holiday trip. When she and other passengers were told to get off the Delta Airlines flight, John F. Kennedy International Airport was watching a movie on his plane on the tarmac.

He said he found out about the outage by reading news on Twitter and was on the plane about an hour before takeoff.

“Trying to be patient, but feeling frustrated,” Allen said. He said the situation at the airport is “not chaotic at the moment, but if delays are long”.

Flight delays in the US have had a ripple effect at some airports overseas. International airport operator Aéroports de Paris, or Airports of Paris, said all flights on US carriers were delayed. It said non-US airlines were flying as normal without disruption.

Air France said all its flights to the US were operating as scheduled and were not affected by the FAA computer outage. He said that we are monitoring the situation continuously.

A spokesman for London’s Gatwick Airport said: “As far as we know, we are still flying to the US.

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