FAA: Contractors mistakenly deleted files, causing safety system failure

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The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that contractors working on a system that notifies pilots of potential hazards from “accidentally deleted files” have grounded flights across the country and led to thousands of delays last week.

As lawmakers demand answers about the cause of the outage, the company said it is continuing to investigate and has updated Congress on the latest findings.

The system distributes bulletins called announcements to airlines and is a three-decade-old patchwork of new technology and components. In its statement Thursday, the FAA said contract workers were attempting to restore synchronization between the live database and the backup system when the problem began.

The system began to fail on the afternoon of January 10, and efforts to restore it were unsuccessful until the evening. Jan. In the early hours of the 11th, the agency decided to reset the system and ordered a nationwide air travel shutdown – the first since 9/11. Air traffic soon began moving again, but delays continued throughout the day.

FAA system failure brings new disruption to US air travel

The FAA said its initial review found no evidence of a cyberattack or malicious intent.

The outage highlights the aging computer systems on which aviation security relies. It’s unclear how the mistake will bring down the entire notification system, but the FAA said it has taken steps to fix it and ensure it remains more resilient.

“The agency is moving quickly to adopt other lessons learned in our efforts to ensure the continued strength of the nation’s air traffic control system,” the FAA said.

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The outage comes after Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights in December, which it blamed on outdated technology.

Both incidents have heightened congressional scrutiny of the aviation system.

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