‘More questions than answers’: U.S. Dept. of Transportation investigating cause of FAA system outage

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thousands of flights across the country were canceled or delayed Wednesday after a government system broke down, grounding some planes for hours.


Now, the United States Department of Transportation is conducting what’s called an “after-action process” to determine the root causes of the incident.

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During a briefing Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said there’s no evidence the incident was the result of a cyber attack.

Officials say the Federal Aviation Administration grounded planes out of an abundance of caution, but the Biden administration is now requesting a review of the incident to find the cause.

“Understanding exactly how this was possible, and exactly what steps are needed to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday.

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The system that failed- the FAA’s Notice to Air Mission System, or NOTAM- provides important safety information pilots need before flying.

Crisis response strategist Ken Jenkins says all technology is vulnerable to system failures, but in this case, safety was on the line.

“We haven’t seen something like that to that magnitude for 20 years,” Jenkins said. “Anytime there are human hands that are touching the system, there’s going to be human error. There’s the opportunity for failure again, but what can you do to mitigate it and reduce it as low as you can?”

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On Capitol Hill, lawmakers from both parties are calling for accountability, and questioning whether the FAA needs to overhaul its technology system.

“People should be able to fly on a Wednesday morning and know their flights are going to take off safely and securely,” Republican Rep. from South Carolina Nancy Mace said. “We have more questions than answers at this point.”

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