air traffic interrupted by a computer failure

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced that its NOTAM (Notice to air missions) system, essential for the movement of aircraft, is down. The resolution of the problem is underway but domestic flights are suspended.

Panic in the American skies. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced Wednesday 6:30 a.m. (local time, 12:30 p.m. in Paris) that its NOTAM (Notice to air missions) system, essential for the movement of aircraft, is down.

At 2:15 p.m. (French time), the FAA evokes “progress” in the restoration of the system, still counting on 3 p.m. to restore the departures for the moment frozen.

“All flights currently in the sky are safe to land. Pilots check the NOTAM system before flying,” the FAA said.

An hour earlier, the agency “ordered airlines to suspend all domestic departures until 9 a.m. Eastern time (3 p.m. in France), to allow the agency to validate the integrity flight and safety information”.

There were at least 3,578 delayed flights in the United States as of 8 a.m. (1 p.m. Paris time) on the country’s east coast, according to flight tracking site Flight Aware.

According to Cirium data, 21,464 flights are scheduled to depart from US airports on Wednesday, for a capacity of nearly 2.9 million passengers. American Airlines has the most departures from US airports with 4,819 scheduled flights, followed by Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines, according to data from Cirium.

Not a cyberattack

According to the White House, “there is no sign” of a cyberattack “at this time”. “The President has been briefed by the Department of Transportation on the outage affecting FAA systems. There is no indication of a cyberattack at this time, but the President has instructed the Department of Transportation to conduct a full investigating the causes,” White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre wrote on Twitter.

Domestic flights suspended

On Twitter, several passengers are reporting that their flight is grounded, as seen in the tweets below.

NOTAM, an essential tool for aircraft

NOTAM is a tool used to warn of potential hazards on a flight. It provides essential information to all personnel involved in flight operations, including pilots, flight dispatchers and flight planners.

Information may include items such as runway closures, general bird hazard warnings, or low-level construction obstructions.

Comprised of three systems, international NOTAMs notify aircrew of any changes to any component of the National Air System (NAS) in the United States.

>> More information to come on BFM Business in a few moments. Also find the live from BFM Business on video and follow us on Twitter.

Olivier Chicheportiche Journalist BFM Business

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