After the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) hurried to resolve a system malfunction overnight that had prompted a halt to all U.S. leaving aircraft, planes began to restart slowly, and a ground stop was removed.
The origin of a malfunction with a pilot-alerting system that caused thousands of flights to be delayed in the United States remained unknown, but US officials said they had discovered no indication of a hack so far.
The outage happened at a usually quiet period for US travel following the December holiday travel season, but airlines have stated that demand remains robust as travel recovers to pre-pandemic levels.
“Normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the U.S. following an overnight outage to the Notice to Air Missions system that provides safety info to flight crews. The ground stop has been lifted. We continue to look into the cause of the initial problem,” the FAA stated via a Twitter post.
Update 5: Normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the U.S. following an overnight outage to the Notice to Air Missions system that provides safety info to flight crews. The ground stop has been lifted.
We continue to look into the cause of the initial problem
— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) January 11, 2023
Even after the ground halt was dropped, the number of flights affected increased continuously. One problem that airlines are dealing with is getting planes in and out of packed gates, generating further delays.
According to the FlightAware website, over 5,400 flights have been delayed, and 900 have been canceled, with officials estimating that it will take hours to recover from the flying standstill.
The FAA had already instructed airlines to pause all domestic departures when its pilot warning system broke, forcing the agency to conduct a hard reset at 2 a.m., according to authorities.
The FAA is set to adopt a ground delay program to alleviate the backlog of planes held for hours. Flights already in the air were permitted to proceed to their destinations during the ground stop.
The Transportation Department was instructed to examine the outage by US President Joe Biden, who stated that the reason of the breakdown was unclear at this time. When asked if a cyber assault caused the disruption, Biden told reporters at the White House, “We don’t know.”
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg promised a “process to determine root causes and recommend next steps.”