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New York (CNN). After Wednesday’s outage at the Federal Aviation Administration, which caused thousands of cancellations and delays across the United States, service was slowly restored to the airline industry.
All domestic flights across the US were temporarily halted by the FAA Wednesday morning. The ground stop was lifted at 9:15 a.m. ET, after the FAA restored an electronic system providing pilots with preflight safety warnings.
Despite the congestion, airlines continue to cancel or delay flights.
The FAA website still showed ground delays for some airports as of Wednesday afternoon.
American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines were among the major US airlines that responded to this situation. In response, Delta and United Airlines issued travel waivers. American Airlines stated that customers can rebook flights on Wednesday or Thursday with no additional charges.
FlightAware tracks cancellations and delays, and as of 6:05 p.m., more than 9500 flights were delayed or cancelled. ET and over 1,300 flight cancellations.
Southwest was hard hit by the systemwide meltdown that saw it cancel thousands of flights. As of 6:05 p.m., Southwest had cancelled 10% and delayed half of its Wednesday flights. ET.
Southwest operations were resumed at mid-morning according to the airline.
Southwest stated that “as a consequence of the FAA’s outage,” they anticipate schedule adjustments to be made during the day. They encourage travelers to access their flight status online, or through the airline’s mobile app. Southwest also granted waivers that allow travelers to modify their flights.
American Airlines also was hard hit: American Airlines included feeder airlines using regional jets and said that it had cancelled nearly 400 flights by Wednesday afternoon.
Investigating the cause of outage
Notification to Air Missions (NOTAM) is the affected system. It sends pilots alerts to inform them of potential dangers to their flight. Although it is independent from air traffic control, which keeps aircraft at a safe distance between each other in order to maintain air safety, this system is an important tool.
The FAA confirmed CNN’s report Wednesday night by confirming that the cause of the outage was a corrupted file.
Our preliminary investigation has shown that the cause of the outage was a corrupted database file. The FAA stated that there was no evidence to suggest a cyberattack at this point.
This was the same sentiment as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said to CNN’s Kate Bolduan on Wednesday.
“There has been no evidence of or direct indications that there is a problem. [a cyberattack] Buttigieg stated that we will not rule out the possibility until we have an even better and clearer understanding of what has happened.
A “bundance” of caution prompted the United States to implement a 90 minute ground stop for all flights Wednesday morning. Buttigieg stated that safety messages sent to pilots overnight showed “irregularities”.
Buttigieg has criticised airlines for technology and staffing issues over the past year. He said that the Transportation Department would take responsibility and the Federal Aviation Administration would.
Buttigieg stated that “No” such disruptions are allowed. His primary concern now, after we have dealt with the disruptions immediately in the morning, is to understand how it was possible and what steps need to be taken so that this doesn’t happen again.
On Wednesday morning, Buttigieg tweeted that he ordered an “after-action procedure to determine root causes of the problem and suggest next steps.”
Nav Canada reported a downtime in Canada’s Notam system Wednesday. The three-hour delay did not affect flight operations, and the cause of it is being investigated by the provider of air navigation services.
“At the moment, we don’t believe that the cause of the FAA outage suffered earlier today,” Nav Canada stated in a statement.
Another aviation meltdown
This is the second mass cancellation that Erin Potrzebowski, frequent flyer to Southwest has caused to cancel her Southwest flight.
Potrzebowski said, “I have never experienced anything similar to the event today” and compared it with the Southwest event from two weeks ago. He was waiting on Wednesday for his rescheduled flight to New Orleans via Chicago Midway International Airport.
Potrzebowski stated that although it is common for people to have weather-related problems, he has never seen widespread cancellations that affected the whole country.
Rapidly, calls were made for upgrades to the aviation system.
Geoff Freeman (president and CEO, U.S. Travel Association) stated that today’s FAA system disaster is an indication of America’s urgent need for significant improvements in its transportation infrastructure.
Americans deserve a seamless, secure travel experience from beginning to end. Our nation’s economic success depends on an excellent air travel system.
Congress will address investment in the agency this year when the FAA Reauthorization Act, which was signed in 2018, expires.
Even though the situation was not ideal, international flights headed for the United States continued to depart from Paris and Amsterdam on Wednesday. CNN was informed by a spokesperson for Schiphol Airport that “a workaround” had been implemented and flights continued to depart from Amsterdam.
According to Paris Charles de Gaulle’s press office, there were no cancellations at the airport, however delays could be expected. CNN was also informed by Frankfurt Airport that it has not been affected.
An official at London Heathrow Airport stated to CNN Wednesday morning that they weren’t aware of any canceled flights or that US flights had been cancelled recently. However, passengers reported significant delays.
CNN’s Shabnam Amini stated that other passengers had been seated on American Airlines Flight 51 from Dallas to Heathrow for nearly three hours because of an FAA failure.
They were informed of delays, but they were still able to board the plane.
NotAMS is used by commercial airline pilots to get real-time information about flight restrictions and hazards. FAA states that NOTAMS should not be used as the only source of information. However, some flights might be able satisfy safety regulations by using additional data.
This incident on Wednesday comes just days after another aviation emergency. The Southwest Airlines meltdown was triggered by a huge winter storm that erupted over end-of year holidays. It caused significant disruption to Southwest Airlines passengers and resulted in thousands of deaths.
Although Wednesday’s Southwest flight cancellations were a concern for customers, they weren’t nearly as severe as the December 21-December 29 period when 16,000 flights (or almost half) had to be cancelled due to a lack of staff.
CNN contributors to this article were Barry Neild of CNN, Paul P. Murphy and Betsy Kline. Chris Isidore. Chris Isidore. Sean Lyngaas. Betsy Klein. Marnie Hunter. Stephanie Halasz.