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Domestic flights across the United States will resume after the Federal Aviation Administration resolves a technical glitch


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The Federal Aviation Administration lifted a ground grounding of flights across the United States after a computer outage early Wednesday sent thousands of delays quickly cascading through the system at airports nationwide.

Earlier this morning, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered all US flights to delay departure until at least 9 a.m. ET. Because of the extreme crowds, the FAA has evacuated flights from Newark Liberty Airport and Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

The agency said that normal air traffic operations have gradually resumed across the United States after the interruption.

More than 3,700 flights were delayed and more than 640 canceled earlier in the day.

The FAA said it is continuing to investigate the cause of the initial problem.

Most of the delays were concentrated along the east coast, but they were beginning to spread west. International flights to Miami International Airport have continued to land, but all departures have been delayed since 6:30 a.m., airport spokesman Greg Chen said.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a tweet that he is in contact with the FAA and monitoring the situation.

More than 21,000 flights were scheduled to take off in the United States today, most of them domestic flights, and about 1,840 international flights are expected to fly into the United States, according to flight data firm Cirium.

It is possible to obtain a permit for some medical trips, and the interruption does not affect any military operations or movement.

Early Wednesday, the U.S. Army’s Air Mobility Command flights were unaffected, said Air Force Col. Damien Pickart, a spokesman for the Air Mobility Command, which is responsible for all troop movements and supply flights, such as C-17s carrying aircraft. The President’s motorcade vehicles when he travels, as well as all flights that transport troops from one base to another. Air Traffic Command has been working with the Federal Aviation Administration on the issue.

While the White House initially said there was no evidence of a cyberattack, President Joe Biden said “we don’t know” and told reporters he had directed the Department of Transportation to investigate the cause of the disruption.

President Joe Biden addressed the issue of the Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday before leaving the White House to accompany his wife to a medical procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside Washington. He said he had just received a briefing from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who told him they still hadn’t determined what went wrong.

“I just spoke with Buttigieg. They don’t know why. But I’ve been on the phone with him for about 10 minutes,” Biden said. “I told him to report directly to me when they find out. Air traffic can still land safely, just don’t take off now. We don’t know why.”

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The FAA is working to restore what is known as the Air Mission System Notice. Before a flight begins, pilots are required to consult NOTAMs, or Air Missions Notifications, which list potential negative impacts on flights, from runway construction to the possibility of icing. The system used to be phone-based, with pilots calling dedicated flight service stations to get information, but it has now moved online.

It seems that NOTAM system malfunctions are rare.

“I never remember a NOTAM system going down like this. I’ve been flying for 53 years,” said John Cox, a former airline pilot and now a flight safety consultant.

According to FAA guidelines, the NOTAM system at 8:28 p.m. ET on Tuesday failed to prevent new or amended notices from being distributed to pilots. The FAA resorted to a phone hotline in an effort to keep departures flying overnight, but as traffic increased during the day, the phone backup system was overwhelmed.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanik said US military flights were not affected because the Army has its own NOTAMS system separate from the FAA system and the Army system was not affected by the outage.

European flights to the US appear to be largely unaffected.

Irish carrier Aer Lingus said services to the United States were continuing, and the Dublin Airport website showed its flights to Newark, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles were running on schedule.

“Aer Lingus plans to operate all transatlantic flights as scheduled today,” the company said in a prepared statement. “We will continue to monitor, but we do not expect any disruption to our services arising from the technical issue in the United States.”

It is the latest headache for US travelers who have faced canceled vacation flights amid winter storms and a meltdown of staffing technology at Southwest Airlines. They also faced long lines, lost baggage, cancellations and delays over the summer as travel demand returned from the COVID-19 pandemic and faced staff cuts at airports and airlines in the United States and Europe.

The FAA said it will provide frequent updates as it makes progress.

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