All About Recent FAA System Outage in the USA

After forcing all aircraft in the United States to be grounded due to a system malfunction that warns pilots of any obstructions before takeoff, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has now allowed some flights to resume.


On 11th Jan 2023, The Federal Aviation Administration announced that U.S. airline operations resumed and that a procedural error connected to a data file. It was to blame for the computer failure that halted aircraft nationwide on Wednesday and affected more than 11,000 flights.


According to the FAA, its preliminary examination “found that a data file was corrupted by staff who disregarded policies.


After the computer error was addressed, the ground halt was lifted at 9 am ET.

How were the major US carriers affected by the recent FAA system outage?



Major US airlines like United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and American Airlines all said they had halted flights due to the situation. Travel waivers have been made available by United and Delta in reaction to the interruption. According to American Airlines, customers could rebook their flights on Wednesday and Thursday without paying any additional fees.


As of June 6, more than 9,500 domestic, international, and charter flights were delayed, and more than 1,300 flights were canceled, according to FlightAware, a company that monitors delays and cancellations.


Southwest, which had to cancel more than 400 flights after a systemic collapse after Christmas, was severely impacted. As of 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday, 10% of Southwest’s flights had been canceled, and 50% had been delayed. By mid-morning, Southwest operations had resumed, according to the airline.


Southwest stated that,


As a result of the FAA’s outage, we anticipate some schedule adjustments will be made throughout the day” and urged customers to check the status of their flights online or through the airline’s app. Additionally, Southwest has granted a waiver enabling passengers to modify their flights.


Including feeder carriers that operate regional jets, American Airlines reported having canceled over 400 flights as of 11th Jan.

How has the recent system outage impacted international flights?

Despite the scenario, international aircraft departing for the United States took off from Amsterdam and Paris on Wednesday.


According to a spokeswoman for Schiphol Airport: planes were still leaving from Amsterdam, and “a workaround had been issued.”


According to the airport’s press office: there were no cancellations at Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, but delays were anticipated. Frankfurt Airport confirmed to CNN that it was unaffected.


According to Shabnam Amini: the FAA outage caused her and other passengers on Americans Airlines flight 51 to Dallas to stay on the plane for nearly three hours at Heathrow. She claimed they had been told there were delays, but they had already boarded the plane.


Pilots of commercial airlines utilize NOTAMS to get up-to-the-minute information on flying dangers and limitations. Some flights may be able to meet safety criteria by using other data because the FAA mandates that NOTAMS are not to be relied upon as a sole source of information.


The event on Wednesday occurs soon after another aviation emergency. Over the holiday season, a major winter storm created significant disruption and contributed to the Southwest Airlines meltdown, impacting thousands of travelers.

What is NOTAM?



The mechanism that malfunctioned on Wednesday was a component of an almost century-old procedure known as Notices to Airmen, originally based on a system for warning mariners.


The system, renamed “Notices to Air Missions” in 2021, is designed to warn pilots of potential dangers, such as snow, volcanic ash, or birds near an airport. Additionally, it offers details on runway closures and transient air limitations.


The NOTAMs distributed by the U.S. The Federal Aviation Administration is a part of a global safety network controlled by the aviation organization of the United Nations.


Before takeoff, pilots are expected to read the notices, printed on paper or displayed on an iPad. Up to 200 pages of reading material may be necessary for long international trips. NOTAMs are written using a form of encoded shorthand that was initially created to improve communication.

What changes have been made to the system?


To make it simpler for airlines and pilots to filter the most crucial warnings and present more understandably, the system is being overhauled under the direction of the U.N. Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).


At the airport in San Francisco in July 2017, an Air Canada flight made a wrong-way landing and narrowly avoided colliding with four other aircraft.


On page 8 of a 27-page briefing, the pre-flight NOTAM highlighted the closure of one of the airport’s two runways, but the pilots failed to see it. The initiative to modify how the system functions were motivated by the event and the information overload pilots believe the system encourages.


At a 2018 hearing on the Air Canada incident, which assisted in igniting a worldwide campaign for change, U.S. National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said that NOTAMs are just a bunch of garbage that nobody pays attention to.


In recent years, efforts to upgrade the system have involved FAA authorities.

Causes of the recent system outage:

Source; Daily Sabah


The event happened only a few weeks after huge cancellations due to bad weather over the holiday season. It caused an internal Southwest Airlines platform to become overloaded, leading to a days-long collapse that the airline estimates could have cost more than $800 million.


Due to the FAA’s outage, politicians from both parties have questions, which will probably result in hearings and discussions about increased money for the American aviation authority. Pete Buttigieg, the secretary of transportation, promised an investigation.


“When there’s a problem with a government system, we’re going to own it, we’re going to find it, and we’re going to fix it,” Pete told reporters on Wednesday.


The FAA claimed there was no proof of a cyberattack. An individual who knows the situation claims that the faulty data file was given to the primary and backup systems.

The FAA stated late Wednesday that it was making “diligent efforts to identify the reasons for this issue further and take all necessary procedures to prevent this kind of interruption from happening again.”


To conclude, the actual causes of the system outage are yet to be found. The FAA is working on it. For more highlights on the recent FAA system outage in USA, reach out to TravelLuxCurator, a highly informative platform regarding all travel needs from visa to booking a ticket; you’ll get to know everything here.

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