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The recent cancellation of all flights in the US was due to damage to just one file.

Published: 2023-01-13

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a statement on the preliminary results of an investigation into a computer glitch that forced the cancellation of virtually all civil aviation flights in the country on January 11. The failure was blamed on two people whose actions, whether intentionally or not, caused the data file to become corrupted.

We previously reported that on the morning of January 11, the FAA Notice to Air Mission Systems (NOTAM) notification system failed in the United States. The NOTAM network sends service messages to commercial airline pilots, including up-to-date and critical data on the safety of the air situation at airports and on air corridors. Without this information, pilots risked getting into emergency situations, which could lead to numerous casualties.

Interestingly, the FAA has used all the necessary protocols and regulations to ensure that the system works reliably. However, two people from the contractor's service violated the protocol for working with the NOTAM data file, which caused the entire system to fail. Restoring data from a backup also did not help, because the system immediately tried to update the data and accessed the damaged file. To solve the problem, I had to stop everything and raise the platform from scratch.

During the restoration of NOTAM, civil aviation flights to the United States were almost completely stopped, which paralyzed the work of this transportation sector for several hours. Fortunately, the ships already in the air completed the flights without accidents. According to Rosaviatsia, Russian air traffic controllers came to the aid of American pilots in neighboring areas of responsibility. In particular, they helped on transit lines heading to the USA and Canada and in the Alaska region.

The NOTAM system was restored on the same day and is now operating normally. The investigation continues to establish the degree of guilt involved in the failure. At the same time, it is noted that individual NOTAM nodes are more than 30 years old and this also does not increase the reliability of its operation.