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US domestic flights delayed after FAA system outage. Here's what we know

An outage of a key FAA system saw flights grounded earlier today. Flights are now starting again with delays.
Written by Danny Palmer, Senior Writer on
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Image: Getty/KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI

Delays and cancellations are likely continue for US air passengers, even as airports are slowly returning to normal after domestic flights were grounded this morning because of a system outage at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)  .

The FAA is the US government agency which oversees many aspects of America's aviation, including air traffic management. 

The issue affected the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system, which provides pilots with real-time information about changes and potential hazards on flight routes. 

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"The FAA is working to restore its Notice to Air Missions System. We are performing final validation checks and reloading the system now. Operations across the National Airspace System are affected," the FAA said in a tweet posted earlier this morning. 

"The FAA is still working to fully restore the Notice to Air Missions system following an outage. The FAA has 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," it later added.

A little over two hours after the initial reports of the issue, the FAA has now stated that operations were being restored and flights were taking off -- but many airlines and airports warn that disruptions are likely to continue across the day.

"Normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the U.S. following an overnight outage to the Notice to Air Missions system that provides safety info to flight crews. The ground stop has been lifted. We continue to look into the cause of the initial problem," said the statement.

The exact nature of the computer issue is yet to be disclosed, but the White House has said there's currently no evidence it's due to a cyberattack.
The importance of the NOTAM system to flight safety meant that, for a period of time, all flights within the US were grounded.  Airports and air carriers have warned travelers that they should expect delays. 

"The ground stop has been lifted. Flights are beginning to board and prepare for departure. Residual delays or cancellations will likely continue throughout the day as a result of this morning's outage. Passengers are still urged to check flight status before leaving for airport," warned O'Hare International Airport.

"The FFA system that sends out important real-time flight hazards and restrictions to all commercial airline pilots -- Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) -- is currently suffering a nationwide outage. United has temporarily delayed all domestic flights and will issue an update when we learn more from the FFA," United Airlines said earlier today in a statement. 

Following the FAA nationwide ground stop being lifted, the company said it has started resuming flights. "Efforts are underway to minimize impacts to our customers and our operation."

"If your flight this morning was delayed due to the FAA-issued ground stop, we have issued a travel waiver to allow you the freedom to change your travel plans," United added.
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"We're closely monitoring a data issue with the FAA that may impact the start of operations today Jan 11, 2023," said a tweet by Southwest Airlines

"An FAA system outage is causing ground stops at AUS and other airports across the country. Arriving & departing passengers can expect delays this morning & through the day," said a tweet posted by Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. (AUS)

"The FAA has lifted the ground stop but cancelations and delays are expected through today as airlines work to restore their regular operations. "Please continue to check in with your airline before heading to AUS,"  the airport added, following the initial disruption.

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