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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered airlines to hold up all U.S. departures until at least 9:30 a.m. EST due to a computer outage at the agency.
NBC News reports about 3,704 flights within, to and out of the U.S. were delayed as of around 8:26 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to the online flight tracker FlightAware. It added that 567 had been canceled.
At about 7:20 a.m., the FAA tweeted that it had “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.”
The agency subsequently told CBS News the pause has been extended to 9:30 a.m. but doesn’t affect military or medical flights.
The agency said in a tweet that it was working on restoring its Notice to Air Missions System (NOTAM).
“We are performing final validation checks and reloading the system now,” the FAA said. “Operations across the National Airspace System are affected.”
At about 7:00 a.m., the FAA said on Twitter that, “While some functions are beginning to come back on line, National Airspace System operations remain limited.”
White House has more questions than answers about grounded departure flights
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted that, “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.”
Before leaving the White House with first lady Jill Biden, who was heading for a medical procedure, Mr. Biden told reporters, “I just spoke with Buttigieg. They don’t know what the cause is. But I was on the phone with him. … 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.”
According to CBS News correspondent Nancy Cordes, when asked if there was any evidence of a cyberattack, he responded, “We don’t know” — even though Jean-Pierre had just tweeted that there is no such evidence.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg had tweeted earlier that he’d contacted the FAA about the outage.
Just last week, a similar arose in the Sunshine State when a nationwide ground stop was issued Monday for flights into Florida due to a saturated air space. “The FAA has slowed the volume of traffic into Florida airspace due to an air traffic computer issue that is being resolved,” the agency then said in a statement.
FAA has planned updates, though not in time for Wednesday travelers
On Dec. 7, 2022, the FAA published in the Federal Register a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), “Update to Air Carrier Definitions,” that would incorporate “powered-lift” operations into the existing framework of regulations that govern air carrier and commercial air operations.
According to Holland & Knight, if finalized as proposed, this rule-making would amend the scope of authorized operations under the FAA regulations to include operations by advanced air mobility (AAM) aircraft utilizing Electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) technology.
In a notice of proposed rulemaking, the FAA said that it remains concerned about the impacts of the C-Band operations on flights, including triggering false warnings from flight systems—particularly as more 5G is deployed across the entire band, and with more than 20 additional operators expected to start operating in the band later this year.
The Federal Aviation Administration is giving the aviation industry more time to update legacy radio altimeters that could potentially be impacted by terrestrial 5G operations in C-Band spectrum, per RCR Wireless.
The FAA said that it remains concerned about the impacts of the C-Band operations on flights, including triggering false warnings from flight systems—particularly as more 5G is deployed across the entire band, and with more than 20 additional operators expected to start operating in the band later this year.
At this time the exact cause of the computer outage and subsequent nationwide disruption is unknown.
UPDATE: The FAA lifted its ground stop, saying flights ‘are resuming gradually.’
The Federal Aviation Administration lifted an order to ground all flights across the United States shortly before 9 a.m. Eastern on Wednesday after a system failure left pilots, airlines and airports without crucial safety information for hours.
The agency said that “normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the U.S.”
This story is developing.