Flights grounded live: FAA suspends all US domestic flights

Planes turn back for airports as all flights in US grounded, tracker shows

The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered airlines to pause all US departures until 9am EST, following a major IT failure.

A key system used to notify pilots and ground staff of hazards and alerts has suffered a “major failure”, which FAA engineers are frantically trying to resolve.

The fault lies with the NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) system, which keeps pilots and other airport staff updated about aviation hazards and airport facilities.

It stopped processing information this morning; while the FAA said there was no nationwide ground stop, “operations across the National Airspace System are affected.”

The US government transport agency said: “The FAA is working to restore its Notice to Air Missions System. We are performing final validation checks and repopulating the system now,” said a spokesperson for the FAA.”

It added: “We will provide frequent updates as we make progress.”

At least 400 flights have been delayed into, out of or across the US as of 5.31am ET, according to FlightAware.

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Departures resuming at Newark and Atlanta, reports FAA

The Federal Aviation Administration has said that operations are resuming at two airports, Newark Liberty and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, adding that it still expects all US departures to resume from 9am EST (2pm GMT).

“The FAA is making progress in restoring its Notice to Air Missions system following an overnight outage,” it said in a statement.

“Departures are resuming at Newark Liberty and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airports due to air traffic congestion in those areas.

“We expect departures to resume at other airports at 9am Eastern Time.”

Lucy Thackray11 January 2023 13:19

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Airborne flights ‘safe to land’ in US, clarifies FAA

The FAA has clarified that all flights currently airborne and coming into the US are safe to land, despite the outage of the NOTAM system, which alerts pilots to hazards on their journey.

“All flights currently in the sky are safe to land,” said the federal agency in a tweet.

“Pilots check the NOTAM system before they fly.

“A Notice to Air Missions alerts pilots about closed runways, equipment outages, and other potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the flight.”

Lucy Thackray11 January 2023 13:16

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What sort of IT outage is the FAA reporting?

The Federal Aviation Administration this morning reported that its NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) IT system was failing to process information.

The FAA describes NOTAM as as system which “indicate[s] the real-time and abnormal status of the NAS (National Air Space) impacting every user”.

It notifies both pilots and airport and ground staff of a number of incidents that may affect take-offs, landings and routes.

These could include: air shows and parachute jumps, military exercises affecting airspace, volcanic ash clouds, obstacles close to airfields, significant flocks of birds likely to cause bird strikes, or closed runways and taxiways.

Aviation analyst Alex Macheras told The Independent: “NOTAMs are essential for the safe continuation of global air travel.

“These essential notices and directives ultimately keep the world’s aviation sector, specifically flight crew and all personnel concerned with flight operations, informed and up to speed with latest air travel related directives, operational updates, security, weather and warnings.

“With a system failure affecting NOTAMs, operations will be disrupted almost immediately and this will soon be felt elsewhere across the world, including for flights waiting to depart to the US.”

Lucy Thackray11 January 2023 13:08

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Flights ‘continuing to operate as planned’ – British Airways

A British Airways spokesperson has said its flights are “continuing to operate as planned”.

“Our flights to and from the US are continuing to operate as planned. We advise customers to check ba.com for the latest flight information,” said the spokesperson.

Heathrow Airports does not currently show any delayed or cancelled US flights.

Gates are currently closing on flights to Seattle, Tampa and Nashville.

Lucy Thackray11 January 2023 13:04

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‘No evidence of cyberattack’ says Press Secretary

The White House’s Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has said there is “no evidence of a cyberattack at this point” on the FAA’s systems, and that an investigation has been launched into the cause of the outage.

“The President has been briefed by the Secretary of Transportation this morning on the FAA system outage,” tweeted Ms Jean-Pierre.

“There is no evidence of a cyberattack at this point, but the President directed DOT to conduct a full investigation into the causes. The FAA will provide regular updates.”

Lucy Thackray11 January 2023 12:53

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Thousands of UK passengers could miss US connections

Most British Airways flights from London Heathrow during Wednesday morning departed between two and three hours behind schedule, including flights to Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia, New York JFK and Washington.

The longest delay was of an American Airlines flight to Phoenix, which was over three hours late.

Many thousands of passengers are booked on connecting flights with transfer times as low as one hour.

If a connection is missed, traveller with through tickets – such as London-Chicago-Kansas City – can expect to be booked on the next available flight, though with may planes heavily sold, seats are at a premium.

For flights to and from the US, no compensation is owed to passengers under European air passengers’ rights rules.

But the requirement for airlines to provide meals and, if necessary, accommodation until the traveller can reach their destination should apply to those with through tickets.

Simon Calder11 January 2023 12:44

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US disruption ‘will soon be felt elsewhere across the world’, says analyst

Aviation analyst Alex Macheras has told The Independent: “NOTAMs are essential for the safe continuation of global air travel.

“These essential notices and directives ultimately keep the world’s aviation sector, specifically flight crew and all personnel concerned with flight operations, informed and up to speed with latest air travel related directives, operational updates, security, weather and warnings.

“With a system failure affecting NOTAMs, operations will be disrupted almost immediately and this will soon be felt elsewhere across the world, including for flights waiting to depart to the US.”

On Twitter Mr Macheras predicted: “Flights will be unable to resume until [the system failure is] resolved.”

Lucy Thackray11 January 2023 12:33

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FAA is ‘working swiftly’, says Buttigieg

The US Secretary for Transportation Pete Buttigieg has said the FAA is “working to resolve this issue swiftly”, as hundreds of flights remain grounded and many more disrupted by the system outage.

“I have been in touch with FAA this morning about an outage affecting a key system for providing safety information to pilots,” tweeted Mr Buttigieg.

“FAA is working to resolve this issue swiftly and safely so that air traffic can resume normal operations, and will continue to provide updates.”

Lucy Thackray11 January 2023 12:26

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All domestic departures paused until 9am ET, says FAA

The Federal Aviation Administration has issued an update on the status of their NOTAM system, the failure of which has grounded and delayed flights across the US.

“While some functions are beginning to come back on line, National Airspace System operations remain limited,” said a spokesperson

“The FAA has ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9am Eastern Time [2pm GMT] to allow the agency to validate the integrity of flight and safety information.”

Lucy Thackray11 January 2023 12:22

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Flights grounded across US following major FAA system outage

Thousands of flights have been grounded across the US after the Federal Aviation Administration’s IT system suffered a “major failure”.

The NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) system, which keeps pilots and other airport staff updated about aviation hazards and airport facilities, has stopped processing information as of Wednesday morning.

The FAA said there was no nationwide ground stop, but confirmed the NOTAM system was down, with engineers currently working on the issue.

The FAA describes NOTAM as as system which “indicate[s] the real-time and abnormal status of the NAS (National Air Space) impacting every user”.

Lucy Thackray11 January 2023 12:11

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