On January 11, the FAA ordered all flights in the United States be canceled. This is the first time since 9/11 that every single flight in the United States has been grounded.
The FAA tweeted that all airlines were ordered to pause their departures due to a system outage.
Cleared Update No. 2 for all stakeholders: ⁰⁰The FAA is still working to fully restore the Notice to Air Missions system following an outage. ⁰⁰While some functions are beginning to come back on line, National Airspace System operations remain limited.
— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) January 11, 2023
The White House claims there is no evidence of a cyberattack and that the U.S. Department of Transportation is currently investigating the problem. Antiquated computer systems have been identified as the source of the issue. The system that pilots use to communicate with Notice to Air Missions System (NOTAM) used to be telephone based but was later moved online.
The system broke down on Tuesday, which led to more than 1,000 flight cancellations and 6,000 delayed flights. This incident has served to prove how dependent Americans have become on air travel.
Not an Everyday Occurrence
A former FAA official has confirmed that there has not been a flight stoppage of this magnitude since the tragic events on 9/11. “This is unheard of, and then the action that the FAA had to take in grounding all the flights makes it even more significant,” said the former official. There has never been a stoppage of this magnitude due to a system malfunction.
“Periodically there have been local issues here or there, but this is pretty significant historically,” said Tim Campbell, a former senior vice president of air operations at American Airlines. There are no other dates between 9/11 and today where all flights in the country have had to be grounded.