System Failure – FAA’s System’s Outage
Things have been terrible in the world of airplanes. After mounting a massive comeback during the pandemic, non-pandemic issues are starting to hurt private sector airliners. We saw this with Southwest Airlines during the holiday season in December, where they were forced to cancel and delay thousands of flights across the country due to a problem in the crew scheduling system. These systems have started to become a glaring problem in the wake of improving technology in the world, and it seemed as if nothing could get worse than Southwest’s debacle, which is currently under investigation by the Department of Transportation. That was, until the public sector messed up in an unimaginable way.
On Wednesday morning, the Federal Aviation Administration had to issue a ground stop to all flights in the US due to an outage in their “Notice to Air Missions” system. This marks the first time the FAA has had to do this since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, making history for the wrong reasons. This led to the cancellation of more than a thousand flights yesterday, and the logjam is still being worked out. Despite the ground order being removed 2 hours later, it created a major shock in the airline industry that many are still looking into. Preliminary findings point it to a damaged file in the database, and the idea of a cyberattack has been ruled out until further investigation takes place. This system is important because it provides pilots with restrictions and technical information in order to fly smoothly, and a pilot can’t take off without reading them. Different airlines were affected to different degrees, with American Airlines canceling 10 percent of their flights and Delta canceling 3 percent of their flights. These outages are common, but none have had an effect like this, and it raises the problem of how outdated our systems are. Outages are going to become increasingly likely as this old technology continues to run our airspace, but the refusal to upgrade these systems stems from the fact that it is costly. It now seems apparent that reform needs to occur to prevent any large-scale outage that will place our economy in a chokehold, and we’ll see if any legislative action is taken.
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I am not a financial advisor and my comments should never be taken as financial advice. Investments come with risk, so always do your research and analysis beforehand.