The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that a computer glitch would cause delays and cancellations of flights nationwide. The Wall Street Journal has more:
The problem involved the FAA computer system that files automated flight plans, forcing air traffic controllers to revert to the much more time-consuming approach of entering flight plans by hand.
That produced a “domino effect” delaying flights around the country, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association said in a statement. It said the system for processing flight plans was coming back online, but that there will likely be flight delays throughout the day.
Delays began on the East Coast and were rippling out to the west. The problem wasn’t affecting radar coverage or communications with planes in the air, the FAA said. The air traffic controllers union, however, said the FAA systems that provide information on weather and wind speeds at airports also weren’t functioning.
USA Today elaborates:
CNN reports the FAA computer system affected by the malfunction is centered in Atlanta. “The system — the National Airspace Data Interchange Network, or NADIN — appears to be the same one that failed in August 2008. The FAA said flight plans are being processed through the network’s Salt Lake City, Utah office,” CNN says on its website.
CBS News reporter Nancy Cordes has more on the subject via the CBS News website. CBS explains the NADIN “system is located in Atlanta and generates the flight plans for all flights on the East Coast.” She says the glitch is forcing air traffic controllers in the already-congested New York City to space out planes by about 20 miles, instead of the normal eight miles.
CBS adds “the practical ramifications of this problem are that the entire air traffic control system on the East Coast is slowed to about 40-50% of what a normal day would look like. Controllers must input flight data for each takeoff and landing manually.”
The FAA has a history of similar technical failures. They blamed the previous NADIN failure, in 2008, on a Windows upgrade, but offered no more specifics than that, according to Portfolio. By all indications, this was a) not unprecedented, and b) will probably happen again sometime.