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US Flight Ops Resume After FAA Lifts 'Ground Stop' Over System Outage

NOTAM alerts pilots about closed runways, equipment outages, and other potential hazards along a flight route.

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Video Producer: Shohini Bose

Video Editors: Abhishek Sharma, Mohd. Irshad Alam

The Federal Aviation Administration has lifted the 'ground stop' it had imposed over domestic US flight operations following a system outage earlier on Wednesday, 11 January.

"Normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the US following an overnight outage to the Notice to Air Missions [NOTAM] system that provides safety info to flight crews. The ground stop has been lifted," the FAA said.

The agency added that it continues to look into the cause of the initial problem.

Earlier, the FAA ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9 am eastern time (7:30 pm IST) "to allow the agency to validate the integrity of flight and safety information."

Before the flights were grounded shortly after 7 am ET, the flight tracking website FlightAware showed that 1,230 flights within, into or out of the United States were delayed.

The FAA tweeted that it will provide frequent updates as they make progress.

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FAA Updates

In the latest update, the FAA said, "Normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the US 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."

This came over an hour after the FAA 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.

All flights currently in the sky are safe to land, it added.

The FAA is making progress in restoring its Notice to Air Missions system following an overnight outage, the agency further said.

The FAA tweeted earlier that it was working to restore its Notice to Air Missions System (NOTAM). "We are performing final validation checks and reloading the system now. Operations across the National Airspace System are affected," the agency added.

What Is NOTAM?

According to the FAA, 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.

According to the FAA, NOTAMs indicate the real-time and abnormal status of the National Airspace System (NAS) impacting every user. They 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.

"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," the agency said.

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'No Evidence of Cyberattack'

The US government said that President Joe Biden had been briefed by Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and there was no evidence of cyberattack at this point.

"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," the White House said.

Buttigieg said he was in touch with FAA about the outage.

"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," Buttigieg tweeted.

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