June 6, 2023

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U.S. Airspace Shut Down a Fortnight Ago: Human Error Found Culpable- FAA

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Capt Billy Nolen, Acting Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, Unites States

The Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, of the United States of America, U.S., says the massive flight disruption experienced about a fortnight into 2023 was caused by human error.

The Effect of the glitch which led to travel chaos in all airports in the US was second only to the anxiety engendered by the September eleven (9/11) 2001 experience.

Air safety officials said the massive flight disruption was caused by a contractor deleting files on a crucial Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) database computer server used by pilots.

FAA acting Administrator, Billy Nolen, said the worker “unintentionally deleted files” on the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) database.

The dedicated computer system for NOTAM is the system that alerts pilots to potential hazards on flight routes. Pilots are required as a rule to check the NOTAM computer before departing for any voyage.

More than 11,000 flights were delayed and about 1,300 were canceled on 11th January 2023, after the NOTAM system went offline a day earlier.

FAA in a statement said an employee of the contractor mistakenly deleted the files while working to synchronize the primary and backup NOTAM databases.

However, the system has since been fixed, and the FAA claimed it has begun “taken steps to make the NOTAM system more resilient”.

A few days after full flight resumed, some of the legislators representing Washington DC and its environs wrote to the FAA and lamented that the outage was unacceptable.

They demanded a briefing by the FAA Administrator with an assurance that such disruption would not rear its ugly head in the future.

However, we reliably learned that the briefing was held virtually last Friday with the legislators.

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