Accidentally deleted files caused an outage that grounded US flights

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The nationwide ground halt on Jan. 11 that disrupted more than 11,000 flights.

Washington:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Thursday that a preliminary investigation found contract workers “unintentionally deleted files,” disrupting a key computer system and causing a nationwide ground halt on Jan. 11 that disrupted more than 11,000 flights.

The FAA said the problem occurred while staff were working “to correct synchronization between the live primary database and a backup database.” The FAA said it has found “no evidence of a cyberattack or malicious intent to date.”

FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen plans to hold a virtual briefing on Friday for lawmakers and staff who have been seeking details of what went wrong with a pilot message database that led to the first nationwide grounding of departing flights since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

Last week, the agency said the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) messaging system computer malfunction was caused by a procedural error related to a corrupted data file. The NOTAM system provides pilots, aircrew and other users of US airspace with critical safety messages.

The FAA said it has made necessary repairs to the system “and has taken steps to make the pilot messaging system more “resilient.”

The system failure occurred on January 10, but the FAA ground stop was not issued until the following morning.

Last week, a group of more than 120 U.S. lawmakers told the FAA that the computer outage was “completely unacceptable” and demanded the agency explain how it will prevent future incidents.

Senate Commerce Committee employees also asked the FAA to answer questions about the outage, including, “Why were airlines put in a position where they had the option to choose to operate if the NOTAM system was down?”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)

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