The Federal Aviation Administration has been forced to ground hundreds of flights sparking widespread travel chaos after a problem with the system that alerts pilots to potential hazards. So far at least 3,700 flights have been delayed by the outage – with more delays expected throughout the day. It has now been confirmed that President Joe Biden has been briefed on the ongoing situation and has ordered a full-scale investigation. Officials at the White House deny cyber criminals were responsible for causing the outage – but details of an official cause have so far been scant.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed that Mr Biden had been made aware of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) outage on Wednesday.
Writing on Twitter, she said: “The President has been briefed by the Secretary of Transportation this morning on the FAA system outage.
“There is no evidence of a cyberattack at this point, but the President directed DOT to conduct a full investigation into the causes. The FAA will provide regular updates.”
The FAA ordered all US flights to delay departures until 9am Eastern time, though airlines said they were aware of the situation and had already begun grounding flights.
As of 8:30am, more than 3,700 flights within, to and out of the US were delayed on Wednesday, according to the online flight tracker FlightAware. Nearly 560 flights were listed as cancelled.
Most delays were concentrated along the East Coast, but were beginning to spread west. Inbound international flights into Miami International Airport continued to land, but all departures have been delayed since 6:30am, said airport spokesman Greg Chin.
The FAA said on its website that its Notice to Air Missions system had “failed”, which contains information essential to workers involved in flight operations.
“We are performing final validation checks and reloading the system now. Operations across the National Airspace System are affected”, the FAA said.
The agency said that some functions are beginning to come back online, but that “National Airspace System operations remain limited.”
The FAA is working to restore the Notice to Air Missions System (NOTAM).=
“Pilots check the NOTAM system before they fly. A Notice to Air Missions alerts pilots about closed runways, equipment outages, and other potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the flight,” the FAA said in an update.