- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 19, 2009


The FAA said Thursday the computer outage that resulted in widespread flight delays and cancellations has been traced to a major telecommunications system in Utah.

Problems began at about 5 a.m. EST and lasted for roughly four hours, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Agency officials said the outage was the result of a software-configuration problem at its Telecommunications Infrastructure in Salt Lake City, Utah, that controls air-traffic flow.

They also said there is no indication the outage was the result of a cyber attack and that it impacted the National Airspace Data Interchange Network — which relies on the Utah-based computer to process flight plans.

During the outage, air-traffic controllers managed flight plans manually and safely according to FAA contingency plans, the agency said.

AirTran spokesman Christopher White said the airline had canceled 38 flights by 9 a.m. EST and dozens more had been delayed.

By mid-afternoon, the FAA’s Web site shows delays of 45 minutes or more only in the Northeast corridor — from Philadelphia to Boston. However, the delays also are being attributed to a low-pressure system that includes rain and fog.

A team of FAA technical and safety experts is investigating the outage, the agency said.

In addition, agency Administrator Randy Babbitt is meeting with representatives from Harris Co., which manages the Utah-based computer to discuss corrections to prevent future outages.

• Joseph Weber can be reached at jweber@washingtontimes.com.old.

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