Computer system outage causes flight delays, cancellations in Atlanta and nationwide

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said a computer system outage caused flight delays, cancellations, and congested airports here in Atlanta and nationwide today.

FlightAware said 791 flights were delayed out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport today.

More than 8,000 flights were delayed into and out of the United States.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Channel 2′s Tom Jones contacted the FAA to find out how the outage happened and what’s being done to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

He also spoke to travelers at Atlanta’s airport who wanted answers because they said it seems they are at the mercy of computers.

“This is crazy,” said Rhonda Reagan, after arriving hours late in Atlanta due to the outage that forced her flight to be delayed.

Dr. Elizabeth Medford had her connecting flight to Miami canceled.

“They said that there was a glitch in the system and everything, and they couldn’t get any flights,” Medford said in exasperation.

That glitch was actually the FAA’s national Notice To Air Missions (NOTAM) computer system crashing.


That crash temporarily grounded flights all across the country.

“It’s scary,” Reagan said.

NOTAM is a digital bulletin that pilots get before a flight alerting them to potential issues.

Issues like equipment problems, ice on a runway, or an airshow in the area.

Channel 2′s Jones asked the FAA what happened, how does it plan to prevent it from happening again, and if there is a backup system that kicks in when something like this happens?

The FAA issued the following statement: “The FAA is continuing a thorough review to determine the root cause of the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system outage. Our preliminary work has traced the outage to a damaged database file. At this time, there is no evidence of a cyberattack. The FAA is working diligently to further pinpoint the causes of this issue and take all needed steps to prevent this kind of disruption from happening again.”

“It was delayed quite a bit,” traveler King Randall said.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

His flight from Houston to Atlanta was delayed several hours.

He said a backup system would have helped save him some valuable time.

“They definitely should have a backup. But something that large scale ain’t no telling how much money they would have to dish out just to even have a back-up system so,” Randall said.

The FAA did not say whether it had a backup system in place.

Flights resumed around 9 a.m. Wednesday.