Photo Credit: Eric Salard
Delta Airlines planes on the ground at JFK, June 11, 2017.

The United States faced a major disruption of its domestic air travel on Wednesday morning, following the Federal Aviation Administration order halting all domestic flight departures after the NOTAM system that provides pilots pre-flight safety notices went offline. More than 3,500 US flights were delayed before 8 AM ET.

A NOTAM is a notice containing information essential to personnel concerned with flight operations but not known far enough in advance to be publicized by other means. It states the abnormal status of a component of the National Airspace System (NAS) – not the normal status.

  • NOTAMs indicate the real-time and abnormal status of the NAS impacting every user.
  • NOTAMs concern the establishment, condition, or change of any facility, service, procedure, or hazard in the NAS.
  • NOTAMs have a unique language using special contractions to make communication more efficient.

The FAA stated it had “ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9 AM Eastern Time to allow the agency to validate the integrity of flight and safety information. The FAA is still working to fully restore the Notice to Air Missions system following an outage.”

“We are performing final validation checks and repopulating the system now. Operations across the National Airspace System are affected. We will provide frequent updates as we make progress,” the statement continued.

International flights to the United States continued to take off from Amsterdam, Paris, Frankfurt, and London. A London Heathrow Airport spokesperson told CNN that they were “not aware of canceled flights and that flights to the US had left recently.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg had briefed President Joe Biden on the 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 spokesperson said.


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