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US Aviation Authority Blames ‘Damaged Database File’ for Catastrophic Nationwide Flight Shutdown

People check into their flights at Harry Reid International Airport, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in Las Vegas. The world’s largest aircraft fleet was grounded for hours by a cascading outage in a government system that delayed or canceled thousands of flights across the U.S.Critics say the episode is just the latest debacle that suggests Pete Buttigieg is ill-equipped and under-prepared to helm the US Department of Transportation.The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) claims a “damaged database file” is to blame after thousands of flights were canceled or delayed Wednesday following a catastrophic failure of a computerized aircraft advisory system.“We are continuing a thorough review to determine the root cause of the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system outage,” the FAA wrote Wednesday night in a post on Twitter. “Our preliminary work has traced the outage to a damaged database file.”NOTAM provides pilots with vital updates on weather conditions, runway closures, or other information that may be needed to ensure passengers’ safety.There is “no evidence” the system’s failure was the result of a cyber attack, the FAA says.

An advisory issued by the administration Tuesday indicates that NOTAM was out of service as early as Tuesday night. With flights beginning to pick up Wednesday morning, the FAA took the extraordinary step of halting all domestic flights at 7 a.m., and the system wasn’t restored until nearly two hours later.However, the chaos didn’t end there. The hourslong stoppage had a ripple effect on not only the flights that were immediately affected, but also on other departures scheduled for the rest of the day.As of Wednesday evening, at least 1,300 US flights were canceled and over 9,700 were delayed, per FlightAware.It was the second time in less than a month that tens of thousands of passengers across the US were stranded and left to fend for themselves following a system shutdown.A number of critics seized on the air travel meltdown to amplify calls for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to be fired for his handling of the situation.

“How does Pete Buttigieg still have a job?” asked former Trump adviser Kimberly Guilfoyle.Criticism of Buttigieg’s role in the fiasco wasn’t just limited to the right wing, however. Nina Turner, the co-chair of Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign, pointed out that it was far from his first failure on the job.“Breaking a rail strike. Going easy on airline cancellations. The Southwest meltdown. Now the FAA computers are down,” the former Ohio State Senator wrote Wednesday morning.“At a certain point, neoliberals need to come to terms that the DOT is not performing well.”

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has also indicated it intends to conduct its own investigation into the causes of the incident.

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