FAA ‘outage’ causes chaos


Key - Mark Nicholls
Key - Mark Nicholls

Air traffic management across the USA was sent into chaos for four hours due to a ‘software configuration problem’.

November 19: Air traffic management across the USA was sent into chaos for four hours due to a software configuration problem within the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) telecommunications infrastructure in Salt Lake City, admitted the authority. Flight plans were unable to be filed, leading to cancellations and delays for many departures. According to the FAA, air traffic control radar and communication with aircraft were not affected and critical safety systems remained up and running.
The problem arose at 05:00 Eastern Standard Time (EST) and resolved at approximately 09:00 EST. During the outage air traffic controllers had to manage flight plan data manually, in line with FAA contingency plans.
This was the second problem in 15 months – in August 2008 the computer system in Atlanta that processes flight plans was down for several hours. Yesterday’s problem at Salt Lake City also affected operations at Atlanta, the FAA admitted. Chief Administrator Randy Babbitt is to meet with contractor Harris Corporation to discuss measures that should prevent any further problems.