By Tom Ozimek
The failure of a key pilot notification system operated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) late Tuesday has disrupted air travel as the agency has ordered all airlines to ground planes in the United States, with the White House saying an investigation has been launched.
There’s no indication at this time the outage was caused by a cyberattack.
The agency’s Notice To Air Missions (NOTAM) system, which is critical for relaying essential information to flights, failed for the first time in history late Tuesday and remained down into Wednesday morning, according to the FAA.
All flights have been grounded at all airports in the United States, according to the latest FAA advisory issued at 7:44 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
The grounding excludes military aircraft and medical evacuation flights, according to an earlier advisory.
“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,” the FAA said in a statement on Twitter.
The agency added that it’s “still working” to restore the NOTAM system after an earlier advisory indicated that the “outage continues with no current estimated time of restoration.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced in a statement on Twitter that President Joe Biden has been briefed on the outage and that there’s no indication it was caused by hackers.
“There is no evidence of a cyberattack at this point, but the President directed DOT [the Department of Transport] to conduct a full investigation into the causes. The FAA will provide regular updates,” she wrote.
Over 1,200 flights were delayed within, into, or out of the United States as of Wednesday at 7:41 a.m. ET, flight tracking website FlightAware showed.
Frustrated passengers have taken to social media to say they’ve been affected by the outage.
Flightradar24 shared an image showing substantially fewer flights over the United States at the time of the outage compared to the same time last week.
This is a developing story.