Author Topic: FAA outage is wake-up call about 'antiquated' systems, expert says  (Read 2983 times)

Offline KB4TEZ

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(TND) — Air travelers are in for a "tough day" after a key safety system went down, grounding thousands of flights early Wednesday.
The Federal Aviation Administration’s system, Notice to Air Missions, failed Tuesday night. A backup system was used overnight, but the FAA ordered all flights grounded early Wednesday morning.

The ground stop has since been lifted, and the FAA is investigating the cause of the computer outage.

Airborne planes were allowed to land.

The NOTAM system provides real-time information to pilots about potential hazards, such as runway closures, or if there are birds or other hazards in the air, said aviation expert Laurie Garrow.

“You basically need this to be able to take off the flights and do so in a safe way,” said Garrow, the co-director of the Center for Urban and Regional Air Mobility at Georgia Tech.
The disruptions were massive.

As of midday, there were more than 7,500 delays and more than 1,100 cancellations, according to FlightAware.

This outage stopped every departing flight, unlike a storm in one region or a problem with a single airline.

“Can't bypass it. No way around it,” Garrow said. “So, every airline, every airport was affected.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg tweeted that he’s “directed an after-action process to determine root causes and recommend next steps.”

Buttigieg told CNN that there’s no evidence that a cyberattack caused the outage, but he also won’t rule it out.

“We are going to see the ripple effects from that, this morning’s delays through the system during the day,” Buttigieg told CNN. “Now we have to understand how this could have happened in the first place. Why the usual redundancies that would stop it from being that disruptive did not stop it from being disruptive this time.”

Garrow said she’s not aware of any previous breakdowns with this particular system, but many aviation experts have been saying for a while that the FAA’s systems are “antiquated.”

“We've been calling for modernization of the air traffic transportation system for a while,” she said. “I hope this is yet another reason that we might be able to secure funding to help those modernization efforts for (the) FAA.”
Garrow said she expects significant delays, maybe four hours or more. They will for sure last through the day and possibly into Thursday, she said.

Even passengers on inbound flights will have to deal with the congestion, Garrow said. Passengers are likely to get stuck on planes while they wait for gates to open.
Garrow said that if there’s a “silver lining” to the outage, it’s that it happened in mid-January – not exactly the busiest time of year for travel.

Airlines might have more levers at their disposal to accommodate passengers, she said.

The Department of Transportation offers a dashboard so fliers can see what airlines offer in the case of a “controllable” cancellation or delay, though Wednesday's disruptions weren't within the airlines' control.

“Check with your airline," Garrow said. "A lot are starting to offer travel waivers. So, if you have the opportunity of not traveling today or tomorrow or later in the week, that may be a way to avoid it."