Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Computer Glitch at FAA Causes Hundreds of Delays

A computer problem at the FAA's facility in Atlanta caused a huge airplane backup across the east coast.

A failure in the agency’s flight plan processing system, called NADIN, took place around 1:25 p.m. Eastern Time, an F.A.A. spokesman, Paul Takemoto said.

The system handles the flight plans filed by airlines before the aircraft take off. The plans contain information like the departure and arrival points, the type of aircraft, the route, the name of the pilot and the number of people on board.

The F.A.A. shifted the processing to a backup system in Salt Lake City, which is slower. Airlines were told that in some instances, flight plans would have to be refiled before aircraft could leave the ground.

Mr. Takemoto emphasized that passengers’ safety was not affected.

The most seriously affected were Logan International Airport in Boston, Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta, and O’Hare and Midway airports in Chicago.

At Logan, officials initially placed a hold on arriving traffic. Planes bound for Boston were told to wait at their departure points, according to an F.A.A. Web site that tracks airport delays. The hold was later lifted, but flights were running about an hour behind.

A hold was also placed on traffic headed for Atlanta, where airlines were told flights bound there would not be able to take off until at least 5:30 p.m.

There also was a hold on traffic to Newark Airport until 5:30 p.m.

In Chicago, flights from Midway were delayed from one hour and 31 minutes to one hour and 45 minutes, and the delays were “increasing,” the F.A.A.’s Web site said. Delays at O’Hare were averaging about 30 minutes, not that O'Hare airport ever really needs a reason to delay flights as they are the worlds masters at not being able to get a plane off the ground in time.

Delays of an hour and 15 minutes were reported at Baltimore-Washington International, and an hour at Charlotte, the F.A.A. said.

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