10:41 a.m. ET UPDATE: At 8:50 a.m., the FAA lifted the ground stop on domestic flight departures, following an outage of the NOTAM system.
Update 5: Normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the U.S. following an overnight outage to the Notice to Air Missions system that provides safety info to flight crews. The ground stop has been lifted.
We continue to look into the cause of the initial problem
— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) January 11, 2023
While flights have resumed taking off, there is a major backlog to work through. The latest delays and cancellations can be tracked via the FlightAware MiseryMap.
Below is a rundown of how we got to this point:
8:21 a.m. ET Jan. 11:
A major developing story is unfolding at airports around the country, as an outage to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Notice to Air Missions System (NOTAM) has grounded all domestic departures.
At 6:29 a.m. Jan. 11, the FAA sent out a tweet announcing the outage:
The FAA is working to restore its Notice to Air Missions System. We are performing final validation checks and reloading the system now. Operations across the National Airspace System are affected. We will provide frequent updates as we make progress.
The key system alerts pilots of any hazards along a flight path and helps keep things organized on the ground.
After the initial tweet, the FAA sent out a second nearly a half hour later saying that while some functions were coming back on line, operations remained limited.
Right around that time, Newark Liberty International Airport tweeted an update as well.
“Air traffic control issues nationwide may affect EWR Airport flights. Contact your airline for flight status,” the airport posted.
Air traffic control issues nationwide may affect EWR Airport flights. Contact your airline for flight status.
— Newark Liberty International Airport (@EWRairport) January 11, 2023
Flight delays began to pile up at airports throughout the country, including in Newark, with that number quickly climbing to more than 1,000 nationwide.
As the situation cascaded, the FAA went a step further with a third update, tweeting at 7:19 a.m.: “The FAA is still working to fully restore the Notice to Air Missions system following an outage. The FAA has ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9 a.m. Eastern Time to allow the agency to validate the integrity of flight and safety information.”
Meanwhile, there are planes from flights still in the air that had already taken off. Those flights are safe to land because this system is something pilots use before they takeoff.
There is no word yet on a cause for the outage.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg weighed in on Twitter, as well.
“I have been in touch with FAA this morning about an outage affecting a key system for providing safety information to pilots,” Buttigieg tweeted. “FAA is working to resolve this issue swiftly and safely so that air traffic can resume normal operations, and will continue to provide updates.”
At 7:39 a.m., Karine Jean-Pierre, White House press secretary, sent out an update from the White House.
“The President has been briefed by the Secretary of Transportation this morning on the FAA system outage,” Jean-Pierre said. “There is no evidence of a cyberattack at this point, but the President directed DOT to conduct a full investigation into the causes. The FAA will provide regular updates.”
This story is still developing.