US air travel back to normal after tech outage

Air travel in the United States returned to normal on Thursday, a day after a computer system that sends safety information to pilots crashed and blocked traffic from coast to coast.
By late morning on the East Coast, just around 100 flights had been canceled and 1,000 delayed – figures well below Wednesday, when more than 1,300 flights were canceled and 11,000 delayed.
The Federal Aviation Administration said a damaged database file appeared to have caused the safety alert system to crash. transport secretary Pete Buttigieg promised a thorough review to avoid another major failure.
“Now we need to understand how this could have happened in the first place, why the usual redundancies that would keep it from being so disruptive didn’t stop it from being disruptive this time around, and what is the source of the problem. source of errors or corrupted files would have been,” Buttigieg told CNN.
He said there was no indication the outage was caused by a cyberattack, “but we’re not going to rule that out either until we have a better understanding of what’s going on.”
The massive disruption was the latest black eye for the FAA, which has traded blame with the airlines over who annoys passengers the most. Critics, including airlines and tourism leaders, say the agency has been underfunded and needs to upgrade its technology.
The FAA outage, which began Tuesday evening, “is a clear sign that America’s transportation system is in desperate need of significant upgrades,” said Geoff Freeman, president of the US Travel Association trade group.
CEO of United Airlines Scott Kirby criticized the FAA on a variety of issues, including the staffing of air traffic controllers. Last fall, he said the agency was making “a heroic effort” and doing well most of the time, but could be overwhelmed during peak times.
Washington state Rep. Rick Larsen, the top Democrat on a House aviation subcommittee, said the outage raises questions “about the current state of the state’s technology infrastructure. AAF”. He told CNN that Congress will consider whether the agency needs more money to modernize.
The outage came at a bad time for the FAA and Buttigieg.
The FAA is trying to repair its reputation after being widely criticized for how it approved the Boeing 737 Max without fully understanding a flight control system that malfunctioned and played a key role in two crashes that killed 346 people . The agency took a more hands-on approach when reviewing — and possibly improving — Boeing’s modifications to get the plane back in the air.
The collapse of an agency overseen by the Transportation Department could also undermine Buttigieg’s moral authority to reprimand airlines when they cancel or delay flights. He has been going after airlines since last summer, most recently over disruptions at Southwest Airlines, which canceled nearly 17,000 flights in the last 10 days of December.
Wednesday’s breakdown showed how much U.S. air travel depends on the computer system that generates alerts called NOTAMs — or Notice to Air Missions.
Before a plane takes off, airline pilots and dispatchers must review advisories, which include details about bad weather, runway closures or other temporary factors that could affect the flight. The system used to be phone-based, but it went live years ago.
It broke down on Tuesday evening and was not repaired until mid-morning on Wednesday. The FAA took the rare step of preventing any aircraft from taking off for a period of time.


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