U.S. FAA computer outage disrupts system, cancelling 11,000 flights

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reported on Thursday that a preliminary investigation revealed that contract workers “unintentionally deleted files,” which disrupted a crucial computer system and led to a nationwide ground stop on January 11 that caused the cancellation of more than 11,000 flights, Reuters reported.

The FAA reported that the problem arose while staff members were attempting to synchronize a backup database with the active primary database. According to the FAA, there is currently no proof of a cyberattack or harmful intent.

Billy Nolen, the acting administrator of the FAA, plans to conduct a virtual briefing for lawmakers and staff on Friday. They are interested in learning more about what went wrong with a pilot messaging database that resulted in the first widespread cancellation of departing flights since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The CIA said last week that a procedural mistake involving a damaged data file was what led to the computer outage of the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) messaging system. Pilots, flight crews, and other users of American airspace can receive crucial safety notifications through the NOTAM system.

The FAA claimed to have performed the necessary system modifications and taken action to make the pilot messaging system “more robust.”

On January 10, the system went down, but the FAA did not announce a ground stop until the next morning.

The computer failure was “totally unacceptable,” more than 120 U.S. legislators wrote the FAA last week, and they sought an explanation from the organization about how it will prevent similar occurrences in the future.

The staff of the Senate Commerce Committee has also requested information from the FAA about the outage, including an explanation for why airlines were given the choice to fly even though the NOTAM system was not functioning.

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