All USA flights grounded due to FAA computer outage

American Airlines aircraft parked together.
Prayitno, Los Angeles, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – A system failure in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) computer system has caused the grounding of all flights across the continental United States, according to US media reports on the FAA outage.

According to Reuters, the US Federal Aviation Administration NOTAM system (Notice to Air Missions) which essentially provides alerts of hazards, airspace alerts and changes in airport facility services was not processing updated information, leading to the mass groundings.

The FAA has notified the failure of the system. According to their website, technicians are working to restore the system, although there presently is no posted ETA for service resumption.

A statement issued by the aviation regulator earlier today read: “The FAA is working to restore its Notice to Air Missions System.”

“We are performing final validation checks and reloading the system now. Operations across the National Airspace System are affected. We will provide frequent updates as we make progress.”

20,000 flights due to depart US airports today

According to aviation analytics firm Cirium, over 2000 flights were scheduled to depart from US airports today, Wednesday 11 January. This gives some idea of the extent of the disruption caused by the system outage.

Their data reveals the following breakdown:

  • A total of 21,464 flights are scheduled to depart airports in the US today (11 January)
  • Nearly 2.9 million seats are available on these departures, showing the extent of the disruption
  • American Airlines has the most departures from US airports today (4,819), followed by Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines.

Source: Cirium –

Reports of disruption

Posts are beginning to surface on social media with people reporting being stranded by the system outage and subsequent flight groundings. As well as flights within the United States, the FAA outage has also apparently caused chaos for those internationally, waiting for inbound flights to the US.

Update 1220 UTC

The FAA have just provided a progress update, which reads:

Cleared Update No. 2 for all stakeholders: The FAA is still working to fully restore the Notice to Air Missions system following an outage. While some functions are beginning to come back on line, National Airspace System operations remain limited.

Update 3: The FAA is still working to fully restore the Notice to Air Missions system following an outage. The FAA has ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9 a.m. Eastern Time to allow the agency to validate the integrity of flight and safety information.

Update 1430 UTC

FAA progress updates issued:

Update 4: The FAA is making progress in restoring its Notice to Air Missions system following an overnight outage. Departures are resuming at @EWRairport and @ATLairport due to air traffic congestion in those areas. We expect departures to resume at other airports at 9 a.m. ET.

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

Statement by Whitehouse press secretary

The Whitehouse press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has issued a statement saying:

“The President has been briefed by the Secretary of Transportation this morning on the FAA system outage. There is no evidence of a cyberattack at this point, but the President directed DOT to conduct a full investigation into the causes. The FAA will provide regular updates.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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