Thousands of flights were delayed Wednesday morning after a technology glitch led the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to halt departures nationwide.
FlightAware.com showed that more than 4,000 U.S. flights were delayed at 8:30 a.m., with the backup potentially causing hours of residual delays, CNBC reported. The FAA said all flights then in the sky were safe to land.
The FAA tweeted that there was an “overnight outage” in its Notice to Air Missions System, which it said “alerts pilots about closed runways, equipment outages, and other potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the flight.”
The FAA said it expected delayed flights to resume departing around 9 a.m. Departures were resuming around 8:15 a.m. at airports in Newark, New Jersey and Atlanta, Georgia.
At 8:50 a.m., the agency tweeted that “normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually.” When boarding finally resumed at Orlando International Airport around 9:03 a.m., a gate agent described the movement of passengers as a “mass exodus,” the New York Times reported.
There was no immediate evidence of a cyberattack, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted.
She added that President Joe Biden had been briefed on the situation by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttiegieg and had directed the Department of Transportation to “conduct a full investigation into the causes” of the delayed flights.
The massive disruption comes about two weeks after Southwest Airlines canceled nearly 17,000 flights, stranding hundreds of thousands of passengers during peak holiday travel, as reported by the Associated Press.
The airline’s crew-scheduling system was overwhelmed by rapid changes amid a winter storm that brought holiday travel chaos to much of the U.S.
Buttigieg told Southwest CEO Robert Jordan the cancellations were “unacceptable,” WFAA reported, as he came under pressure from both Republicans and Democrats to do more to prevent significant disruptions, as reported by Fox News.
This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.