The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) halted all departing flights nationwide after a system that provides airplane pilots with pre-flight safety notices went offline Wednesday morning. Some incoming flights from outside the United States were also affected, causing airline passengers to get stuck on the tarmac at major airports across the world. The system outage was discovered around 8:00 a.m. ET and had caused 32,578 flights to be grounded by 8:07 a.m. ET, according to Reuters.
UPDATE 1/11/23 10:00 a.m. ET: The FAA has lifted its order to ground all domestic flights, allowing airports nationwide to resume their daily operations. Despite this, many airports are still showing ground stops and airlines are now dealing with mass flight delays and cancellations, per CNN.
The cause for the failure is still unknown, and no recent issues with the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system have been reported. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg reported that flight departures should resume around 9:00 a.m. ET via Twitter. The FAA confirmed as much around 8:45 a.m. ET, confirming that flights were already being cleared for takeoff at New Jersey's Newark Liberty. The busiest airport in the world—Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson—would resume operations at the top of the hour along with others.
The White House has been in communication with the FAA this morning, with President Joe Biden saying he's asked the Administration as well as Buttigieg for a report on the matter.
"I just spoke with Buttigieg, said Biden according to CNN. "They don't know what the cause is. But I was on the phone with him the last 10 minutes. I told them to report directly to me when they find out. Aircraft can still land safely, just not take off right now. They don't know what the cause of it is. They expect in a couple of hours they'll have a good sense of what caused it and will respond at that time,” he added.
Biden was asked about the possibility of the issue being a cyberattack, to which the President responded: "They don’t know. they will find out.”
This issue comes just two weeks after air passengers suffered from massive flight cancellations due to a major blizzard that swept through the midwest and northeast. The heavy snowfall and whiteout conditions forced airlines to cancel the majority of their flights along the eastern seaboard.
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