Saturday, June 09, 2007

FAA computer problems caused severe delays on Friday

Haven't these people heard of redundant systems?

A cascading computer failure in the nation's air-traffic control system caused severe flight delays and some cancellations along the East Coast Friday.

A computer system in Atlanta that processes pilots' flights plans and sends them to air-traffic controllers failed late Thursday or early Friday, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere said. In response, the agency rerouted the system's functions to another computer in Salt Lake City, which overloaded due to the increased volume of data, magnifying the problem.

The FAA could not immediately calculate the number of flight delays caused by the problem, which was made worse by bad weather, Spitaliere said.

Although the computer problem was fixed shortly before 11 a.m. Friday, its impact lingered on into the late afternoon, especially in New York, where computer systems took two extra hours to get back online, Spitaliere said. She said the flight delays in the rest of the country were not as severe.