An IT meltdown grounded every flight from the US this afternoon as a blow to thousands of passengers.
Air travel has now resumed after planes were unable to take off in America due to a glitch in the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) computer system.
The White House said there was no evidence of a cyberattack behind the outage.
The FAA said in a statement that “normal air traffic operations are gradually resuming” across the United States. However, the effects will linger for a while as the industry struggles with more than 4,000 delayed flights. More than 600 cancelled.
US President Joe Biden said the cause of the outage is still unclear and may not be known for several more hours.
“I just spoke to Buttigieg,” he told reporters, citing Pete Buttigieg, the US transportation secretary.
“They don’t know what the reason is. But I was on the phone with him.
“I told them to report directly to me when they found out. The plane can still land safely, it just can’t take off right now.
“They don’t know why, they hope within a few hours they will have a good understanding of what caused it and then they will respond.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had previously tweeted: “There is no evidence of a cyberattack at this point.”
The chaos began shortly after 7 am Eastern Time in the US due to an outage in Notam, or the Notice to Air Missions system, which provides safety information to flight crews.
It transmits urgent advisory information necessary for flight operations.
John Cox, a former airline pilot and aviation safety expert, said the aviation industry has been talking about trying to modernize the Notam system for years, but the FAA doesn’t know the age of the servers it uses.
“I have been flying for 53 years. I’ve never heard of the system breaking like this. So something unusual happened.”
Geoff Freeman, president and CEO of the US Travel Association, said: “America’s transportation network is in serious need of significant improvements.
“We urge federal policymakers to modernize our vital air travel infrastructure.”
The outage caused United Airlines to temporarily suspend all domestic flights.
According to data from Cirium, a total of 21,464 flights were scheduled from US airports on Wednesday, with a capacity to carry around 2.9 million passengers.
The FAA’s system outage comes weeks after an operational meltdown in the Southwest at the end of last year left thousands of passengers stranded.
Just before Christmas, a severe winter storm combined with the Texas-based carrier’s legacy technology led to more than 16,000 flight cancellations last month. British Airways had to apologize in December for canceling dozens of flights to and from the United States, including 15 flights scheduled to leave Heathrow following an IT failure.
However, flights from Europe to the US were largely unaffected by the FAA’s issue.
British Airways and Virgin Atlantic continued to operate departures from the UK, but advised travelers to check before traveling.