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The FAA Grounded Every Single Domestic Flight While It Fixed Its Computers [Updated]

The federal agency paused all domestic departures until 9 a.m. ET as it worked to restore its Notice to Air Missions system, which provides safety info.

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The Federal Aviation Administration said that domestic flights in the U.S. could resume shortly before 9 a.m. ET on Wednesday morning. The announcement ended a period of a roughly an hour that grounded all flights across the country as the agency struggled to fix technical problems with a system that provides pilots with safety information.

“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 FAA tweeted at 8:50 a.m. ET. “The ground stop has been lifted. We continue to look into the cause of the initial problem.”

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Earlier: On Wednesday morning, the agency ordered airlines in the U.S. to pause all domestic departures in the country until 9 a.m. ET as it worked to restore its Notice to Air Missions system, which provides air personnel with critical safety information related to flight operations. Airline industry groups said the problem with system had already caused massive flight delays nationwide.

The FAA alerted the public to a problem with the system at 6:29 a.m. ET on Twitter and announced that it had grounded flights at 7:19 a.m. ET. While the agency didn’t provide details on what had gone wrong with the system, known as NOTAM, Reuters reported that it had apparently stopped processing updated information.

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As explained by the FAA, pilots use the NOTAM system before they take off to learn about “closed runways, equipment outages, and other potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the flight.” As of 8:05 a.m. ET, there were 3,578 delays within, out, and into the U.S., according to flight-tracking website FlightAware.

“The FAA is still working to fully restore the Notice to Air Missions system following an outage,” the agency said in a Twitter update at 7:19 a.m. “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.”

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White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also weighed in on the outage on Wednesday morning, stating that President Joe Biden had been briefed by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on the situation. Administration officials stated that there was no evidence a cyber attack was behind the NOTAM outage at this time.

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“The President has been briefed by the Secretary of Transportation this morning on the FAA system outage,” Jean-Pierre said in a tweet. “There is no evidence of a cyberattack at this point, but the President directed DOT to conduct a full investigation into the causes. The FAA will provide regular updates.”

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Airlines for America, an industry group representing America Airlines, Delta, and United, among other U.S. carriers, said in a statement on Wednesday morning that the problems with the NOTAM system were “causing significant operational delays across the National Airspace System.”

Update 1/11/2023, 8:59 a.m. ET: This post has been updated with additional information from the FAA.