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Flights across the U.S. grounded after FAA experiences computer outage

More than 2,500 flights impacted
Posted at 7:09 AM, Jan 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-11 09:53:36-05

Flights across the United States were grounded Wednesday morning after the Federal Aviation Administration said it experienced a computer outage.

All flights in the U.S. were grounded following the incident, a source with knowledge of the situation told NBC News. The FAA said later Wednesday morning it had ordered all airlines to pause domestic departures until 9 a.m. ET. More than 2,500 flights within, into and out of the U.S. were delayed as of around 8 a.m. Wednesday morning, according to online flight tracker FlightAware. Nearly 250 flights were listed as cancelled.

The FAA had said in a notice on its website that its Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system had “failed.” A NOTAM is a notice containing information essential to workers involved in flight operations.

"Operations across the National Airspace System are affected," the FAA said in a statement.

In an update posted to Twitter, the FAA said it had ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9 a.m. ET "to allow the agency to validate the integrity of flight and safety information."

It said it was still working to fully restore the NOTAM system following the outage.

President Joe Biden was briefed on the situation Wednesday morning, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a tweet.

“There is no evidence of a cyberattack at this point, but the President directed (the Department of Transportation) to conduct a full investigation into the causes,” she said, adding: “The FAA will provide regular updates.”

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a tweet that he had "been in touch with FAA this morning about an outage affecting a key system for providing safety information to pilots."

"FAA is working to resolve this issue swiftly and safely so that air traffic can resume normal operations, and will continue to provide updates," he said.

“We are performing final validation checks and repopulating the system now,” the FAA said in an earlier tweet just before 7 a.m.

“While some functions are beginning to come back on line, National Airspace System operations remain limited,” it said.

United Airlines said it had temporarily delayed all domestic flights until at least 10 a.m. The airline said it would issue an update when it learned more from the FAA about the situation.

Southwest Airlines said it was "closely monitoring" the situation and said it "may impact the start of operations" Wednesday.

"An FAA system outage is causing ground stops at AUS and other airports across the country," the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport said in a tweet.

"Arriving & departing passengers can expect delays this morning & through the day," it said, adding: "Please stay in contact with your airline & check your flight status before heading to AUS."

The news came after a number of social media users said they had been impacted by the situation. It also appeared to have affected some flights into the U.S. from abroad.

A number of airports outside the U.S. said operations were continuing as normal, but Aéroports de Paris, or Airports of Paris, an international airport operator based in Paris, said all flights by American airline companies would be delayed until further notice. It said non-American airlines were flying out as normal without interruption.

Air France said all of its U.S.-bound flights were operating as planned and were not affected by the FAA computer outage. The airline said it continued to monitor the situation.

"As far as we are aware, we are still operating to/from the U.S. at the moment," a spokesperson for Gatwick Airport in London said.

A spokesperson for the Frankfurt Airport in Germany said the FAA outage had not affected its operations.