A Software Upgrade Grounded Hundreds of Flights This Weekend

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Were you flying to or from the eastern seaboard over the weekend? I’m so sorry. A botched software update caused hundreds of flights to be delayed or cancelled on Saturday and Sunday, so there’s a decent chance you had a bad trip. What happened? A software upgrade, of course.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confessed to the fuck up late Sunday and explained that “technical issues” at a Virginia air traffic control center caused the problems. More specifically, the issue was a software upgrade to something called the En Route Automation Modernization system (Eram), which malfunctioned and led to 492 delays—each averaging around three hours—and 476 cancellations. According to an FAA statement on Facebook:

The FAA is focusing on a recent software upgrade at a high-altitude radar facility in Leesburg, VA as the possible source of yesterday’s automation problems. The upgrade was designed to provide additional tools for controllers. The FAA has disabled the new features while the agency and its system contractor completes their assessment.


Around half of the flights in the Washington, DC area as well as flights in the New Jersey and New York areas were affected. If this sounds like a familiar tale, that’s because it happens relatively often these days.

It serves as yet another reminder that our increasingly computer-controlled airplanes come with all the frustration of other computer-controlled things. So don’t forget to upgrade your software—and maybe, if it has the power to snarl vacation travel along the entire East Coast, don’t plan it for a weekend in August. [Guardian]


Image via Getty

Contact the author at adam@gizmodo.com.
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