A computer glitch caused hundreds of flight cancellations along the east coast after a computer outage in Leesburg, Virginia, caused air traffic controllers to suspend flight operations in the region. According to a tweet from the FAA, the glitch was resolved and flight operations returned to normal.
Air traffic operations are back to normal today. More: https://t.co/Ml62GGPpYO
— The FAA (@FAANews) August 16, 2015
According to CNBC News, the FAA was quick to point out the service disruption had nothing to do with an accident or hacking.
The Wall Street Journal reported the glitch was likely due to a software upgrade to the FAA’s system that is responsible for managing its high-altitude traffic system known as En Route Automation Modernization, or ERAM for short. The Federal Aviation Administration has come under scrutiny over delays for its roll-out of the new system.
According to the FAA, the ERAM replaced the outdated En Route Host computer and backup system, which had been managing the nation’s air travel for the last 40 years. The old system had been in place in 20 of the nations air traffic control centers and could only track up to 1,100 aircraft at a given moment. Now, the ERAM has expanded that capability to 1,900 aircraft.
The USA Today reported that the new ERAM system will help airlines avoid delays and save on fuel costs because the system upgrade will allow for airplanes to fly closer together due to better sensor technology which means less diversions from air traffic controllers.
The FAA and airlines were able to keep some flights in operation during the computer glitch by limiting the altitude the airliners were flying at below 20,000 feet. Aircraft flying at this level use a different air traffic control system that remained functional.
While the new system promises many benefits for air travel to come, that didn’t stop irritated travelers from taking to Twitter to express their frustration during the FAA computer glitch under the hashtag #flycopalypse.
— Beth Orchard (@bcreativeintl) August 16, 2015
While some passengers stood inside the terminals staring at cancellation signs, other passengers were not as lucky and had to wait on board aircraft, some up to two hours. Many passengers who couldn’t wait for a flight simply cancelled their travel plans or arranged for alternative means of transportation.
The Washington Post reported that most airlines had resumed normal operations by late Sunday, but officials are still unsure how many passengers have been affected or how many passengers are still waiting to board a flight to their destination.
[Image credits: Rob Carr/Getty Images]