U.S. lawmakers demand answers over FAA outage and flight delays

Hundreds of flights were delayed in the U.S. Thursday morning, a day after an FAA computer glitch prompted a ground stop. More than 1,300 flights were canceled Wednesday and over 10,000 were delayed. 

The FAA said it appears a corrupted database file brought the nation’s aviation system to a halt, and lawmakers on Capitol Hill are demanding answers.

While the system is back up, the FAA is still working to understand why backup systems failed to keep the Notice to Air Missions system running. The primary NOTAM system started going down Tuesday afternoon and had to be reset early Wednesday, leading to the nearly unprecedented nationwide ground stop. 

The NOTAM system basically allows potential safety-related information to be relayed to those using the airspace, said former NTSB chair and CBS News aviation safety analyst Robert Sumwalt, a retired 737 captain. 

Sumwalt also said he gives the FAA credit. 

“I think that in an abundance of caution they stopped all airplanes from taking off and I believe that’s the right thing to do,” he told the news network. 

The failure took place on Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s watch.

“We’re going to own it. We’re going to find it and we’re going to fix it,” Buttigieg said.

“What people need to know is that we will not allow anything to take place that is not safe,” he said. “But this is precisely why our focus right now is on understanding, identifying and correcting anything related to the root cause and how this happened in the first place.”

The FAA said it does not appear cyber security threats led to the failure.