Airlines suffer outage, affecting thousands of flights


Joseph Zuloaga '23

Airlines have recovered from the outage earlier this year, but still continue to suffer mechanical and technical issues, as well as unruly passenger behavior.

Ishaan Gupta '26, Staff Reporter

On January 11th, an FAA system outage caused more than 9,500 flights from and to the US to be delayed and about 1300 flights canceled. The delay came after Southwest canceled more than 2,500 flights last year during the Christmas season.  

The NOATM (notice to air mission) system was affected by the outage, which provides pilots with safety information including equipment outages, closed runways, and potential hazards along a flight route. The pilots were unable to access the system for several hours. 

 The problem cause was solved after 36 hours when the FAA determined that a data file was damaged by an engineer who failed to follow procedures. The engineer had “replaced one file with another” not realizing that they were making a mistake. The agency found no relation to a cyber attack or malicious intent and the outage was ultimately caused by a simple yet costly blunder. 

Air travel returned to normal after a day after when more than a million travelers were affected by the outage in the FAA system.  U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman stated, “Today’s FAA catastrophic system failure is a clear sign that America’s transportation network desperately needs significant upgrades,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman said in a statement. “Americans deserve an end-to-end travel experience that is seamless and secure. And our nation’s economy depends on a best-in-class air travel system.”