U.S. travelers experienced another chaotic crisis early Wednesday morning as the Federal Aviation Administration suffered a systems failure and ordered a complete ground stop for all domestic and inbound international commercial airline flights, Breitbart reported.
President Joe Biden’s White House and administration scrambled to let everyone know that … they had absolutely no idea what had happened but were looking into the matter and would inform the general public of what the problem was in due time.
All departures shut down over system failure
Breitbart noted that hundreds of commercial flights were delayed or canceled beginning in the overnight hours, and while all domestic and international flights already in the air were permitted to land at their U.S. destinations, all departures were grounded, including international flights inbound for the U.S.
Around 6:30 a.m. on the East Coast, the FAA posted to its official Twitter account: “The FAA is working to restore its Notice to Air Missions System. We are performing final validation checks and reloading the system now. Operations across the National Airspace System are affected. We will provide frequent updates as we make progress.”
An update about a half hour later the FAA said it was still working to fully restore its system and that “While some functions are beginning to come back online, National Airspace System operations remain limited,” and noted about 20 minutes later, “The FAA has ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9 a.m. Eastern Time to allow the agency to validate the integrity of flight and safety information.”
Around 8:13 a.m., nearly two hours after the initial alert, the FAA tweeted as an explainer, “All flights currently in the sky are safe to land. Pilots check the NOTAM system before they fly. A Notice to Air Missions alerts pilots about closed runways, equipment outages, and other potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the flight.”
In a final update nearly two and a half hours after the crisis began, the FAA said, “Normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the U.S. following an overnight outage to the Notice to Air Missions system that provides safety info to flight crews. The ground stop has been lifted. We continue to look into the cause of the initial problem.”
Nobody knows anything
Meanwhile, as the FAA scrambled to address the computer system failure that prompted the complete ground stop of all commercial airline flights, so too was President Biden’s administration and the White House, according to Breitbart.
About a half hour after the FAA first notified the public of the problem, Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg tweeted, “I have been in touch with FAA this morning about an outage affecting a key system for providing safety information to pilots. FAA is working to resolve this issue swiftly and safely so that air traffic can resume normal operations, and will continue to provide updates.”
Around 40 minutes later, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wrote in a tweet, “The President has been briefed by the Secretary of Transportation this morning on the FAA system 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 FAA will provide regular updates.”
A similar message, minus the bit about a potential “cyberattack,” came about 15 minutes later from White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, who took to Twitter and said, “@POTUS was briefed by @SecretaryPete early this morning. @POTUS directed DOT/FAA to restore the system quickly and safely, and to determine causes. @SecretaryPete will provide @POTUS an update later this morning.”
“They don’t know what the cause is”
Finally, around two hours after the problem was first noted by the FAA, President Biden briefly addressed the media outside the White House to let them know that nobody in his administration knew what had caused the problem but that it would eventually be figured out.
President Biden tells reporters this morning he has been briefed on the FAA system outage.
“Aircraft can still land safely, just not take off right now. They don’t know what the cause of it is.” pic.twitter.com/M6k4b4ilZT
— Reshad Hudson (@ReshadHudson) January 11, 2023
“I just spoke with Buttigieg. They don’t know what the cause is. But I was on the phone with him about 10 minutes. I told them to report directly to me when they find out,” Biden said. “Aircraft can still land safely, just not take off right now. They don’t know what the cause of it is, they expect in a couple of hours they’ll have a good sense of what caused it and will respond at that time.”