FAA accidentally deleted files that grounded thousands of flights

The failure caused airlines to cancel more than 1,300 flights and delay nearly 10,000 more.
a bunch of airplanes grounded at airport

The Daily Navigator strives to help you make the best decisions in travel. While we produce content according with strict editorial integrity this post may contain references to partner products. Here’s a full explanation for how our team makes money .

Remember earlier this month when thousands of flights were inadvertently grounded in one of the biggest blunders in FAA history? Well, the Federal Aviation Administration is finally giving an explanation for what really happened. 

A little refresher on what went wrong

The FAA’s Notice to Air Missions system temporarily went offline. NOTAM is responsible for providing pilots and other flight personnel with safety information related to flight operations and airports. Pilots are required to contact the NOTAM system prior to flight. 

Though once a manual, telephone-based system, NOTAMs have been “incrementally upgraded over the past several years” to shift to an internet-based operation

When the system went offline on January 11, the failure caused airlines to cancel more than 1,300 flights and delay nearly 10,000 more. 

Who’s to blame? 

Following more than 10,000 flights being delayed or canceled in one day, preliminary findings point the finger at human error. Apparently, “contract personnel unintentionally deleted files.” Seems like a big screw up to me — one caused by said personnel trying to synchronize a main and a backup database. The deleted files ended up being necessary to keep the alert system running. 

But, should “personnel” accidentally deleting files really cause a whole outage? It seems the finger should really be pointed at the less-than-resilient operating system and its outdated technologies. 

“The agency has so far found no evidence of a cyber-attack or malicious intent. The FAA continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding the outage,”  an FAA statement said.

Navigate the News Better

Take a five-minute trip through the news that matters most to travelers with our daily newsletter.

Related Stories

Built with ❤️ by travelers, for travelers.

© 2024 Dollar Flight Club Inc. All Rights Reserved

Stay in the know with
The Navigator Newsletter

A five-minute trip through the news that matters most to travelers. Past Edition

A five-minute trip through the news that matters most to travelers. Past Edition

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. The relationship may impact how an offer is being presented. Our site doesn’t include all the offers available. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The Daily Navigator Featured Card Popup 3
Chase Ink Cash Credit Card Business
Limited Time Offer!


Our favorite card with a $0 annual fee. 

Partner offer. Terms apply.

DFC Partner Perks App Link Image
Special Discounts for Our Members

Save Big with Perks

Get $5,000+ in immediate travel savings with Perks. Unlock next level travel benefits, for life. Get discounts from the world’s best travel brands you won’t find anywhere else. No credit required.

DFC Concierge App Link Image
Special Discount for Our Members

93% off lifetime access

Save $1,200 and 10 hours of your time on every vacation. With Lifetime access to DFC Concierge, get fully customized trip itineraries to make every vacation unforgettable.

Dollar Flight Club App Link Image
Special Discount for Our Members


You can save up to $500 on your next adventure without lifting a finger get email alerts when we find flights up to 90% off leaving your home airport. Just let us know your departure airport and we’ll do the rest.

The Navigator Commitment

The Daily Navigator is the cornerstone of the DFC Media family. Through each of our brands, we’re dedicated to helping our readers travel, spend, and live smarter.

With products dedicated to affordable travel, daily news, hospitality, and personal finance, we deliver the day’s essential content with none of the filler — all in a way that’s fast, easy, and fun to read. Every morning, over 2 Million travelers trust DFC to deliver the latest news and information so that they can make informed decisions faster. We hope you’ll join them.

We’re happy to have you here!