Dozens of Sacramento flights delayed or canceled amid nationwide FAA system problem
Dozens of flights at Sacramento International Airport were delayed or canceled Wednesday after a nationwide computer system outage grounded planes and disrupted domestic flight schedules across the US.
At least 18 Southwest Airlines flights were canceled Wednesday at the Sacramento airport and another 65 were delayed, according to the flight-tracking website FlightAware.com. No cancellations were reported on other airlines, although 22 of the other domestic airlines were delayed.
The Sacramento airport’s website showed 13 arrivals and seven departures scheduled for Wednesday morning were at least an hour late, on all airlines.
The Federal Aviation Administration, in statements beginning overnight, said its Notification of Air Missions (NOTAM) system went down on Tuesday evening. NOTAMs are a required procedure that pilots use to check for restrictions or hazards before a flight.
In an update just before 6 a.m. Pacific, the FAA said normal air traffic was “gradually resuming” across the US and that a nationwide ground stop for domestic flights had been lifted.
The FAA said in announcements that the NOTAM system failed shortly before 5:30 p.m. Pacific and that the agency was relying on a backup phone line system to maintain flights through the night. Daytime traffic early Wednesday morning overwhelmed the backup phone system.
Nationwide, more than 1,100 domestic flights were canceled and nearly 6,500 domestic flights were delayed Wednesday, according to FlightAware. About 45% of Southwest, 38% of American Airlines, 34% of Delta and 30% of United flights were delayed. Counting all travel to, within or out of the United States, FlightAware said more than 2,500 flights were canceled and nearly 16,000 were delayed.
“Southwest Airlines operations have resumed after the FAA lifted a nationwide air traffic ground stop and notified airlines that the Notification of Air Missions (NOTAM) system is operational following an outage,” Chris Perry, a Southwest spokesman, said in a response by email. “As a result of the FAA outage, we anticipate some schedule adjustments will be made throughout the day.”
The issue comes just weeks after Southwest Airlines canceled thousands of flights in the days after Christmas, with the airline’s staffing and scheduling systems disrupted as a major cold snap swept across the eastern two-thirds of the US.
Sacramento International, which relies heavily on Southwest, was among the nation’s worst-hit airports during the outage in late December.
The cause of Tuesday’s NOTAM system failure remains under investigation, but White House officials initially said there was no evidence of a cyberattack.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.