FAA grounds US flights following NOTAM computer outage

The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures in the US until at least 9:30AM Eastern time while it’s restoring its Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system. On early Wednesday morning, the agency issued a notice through an Air Traffic Control System Command Center Advisory that the US NOTAM system had failed. “Operations across the National Airspace System are affected,” the FAA said in a tweet, along with the information that it was working to fix the outage. 

In follow-up tweets, the agency said that while some of the system’s functions are coming back online, it was still working to fully restore the system. Pausing all domestic departures will give it time “to validate the integrity of flight and safety information.” The FAA originally announced that it was pausing all domestic flights until 9AM, but a newer notice from the agency says ground stops will continue until at least 14:30 Zulu/UTC (9:30AM ET).

According to Simple Flying, this is the first time the US NOTAM system has failed, affecting flights across the country. People have been reporting delayed flights since at least the evening of January 10th — based on the the FAA’s advisory, the system failed at 2028Z or 20:28 Zulu/UTC (3:28PM ET). Reuters says over 400 flights flying within, from and into the US had been delayed by 5:31AM ET today, January 11th. 

The FAA has also issued a newer advisory announcing the nationwide ground stop and promising further communication once system restoration is complete. It’s unclear whether the FAA will be able to fully remedy the issue by 9AM. As the news organization notes, a NOTAM contains information that’s essential to flight personnel. Some NOTAMs for long-haul international flights could have as many as 200 pages and include details, such as runway closures and low-altitude construction obstacles.

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