How the FAA plans to avoid grounding thousands of flights again

The FAA is now taking measures to avoid future computer failures.
planes on tarmac and control tower in background

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I was recently looking for a flight for a friend, when she said, “Just make sure it’s not Southwest.” I’m starting to feel for the airline that’s really in the hole right now. But it’s not just one company that’s causing issues. It’s the whole FAA. 

Last month, the FAA accidentally caused thousands of flights to be grounded in a single day — all because someone inadvertently deleted files that ended up being necessary to keep the Notice to Air Missions system running. NOTAM is responsible for providing pilots and other flight personnel with safety information related to flight operations and airports.

The FAA is now taking measures to avoid future computer failures

Following the admission of what happened, the FAA has announced it will require two people, including a federal manager, to be present during maintenance of the NOTAM system and has made changes to protect backup databases from similar incidents. Contractor access to the pilot messaging database was also revoked after the unintentional deletion of files.

But more flight cancelations will continue elsewhere

Though the halting of takeoffs on behalf of the FAA is hopefully a one-time thing, Southwest and other major airlines aren’t so lucky. Flights cancelations from winter storms and airlines selling flights they know they can’t staff have resulted in a domino effect that’s backing up the flow of traffic — literally. 

Yesterday alone, a winter storm stretching from Texas to the East Coast kicked off the newest flight cancelation disaster, with more than 1,600 US flights canceled at the time of my reporting. Poor Southwest has gotten the brunt of it, canceling more than 500 flights. 

What are you owed if your flight is canceled or delayed?

Between the FAA’s recent blunder, ticket scams, and winter storms, flying is proving scandalous right now. If you’re concerned about an upcoming trip, or are the victim of a canceled or delayed flight, it’s important to know what you’re entitled to. The Department of Transportation has outlined everything you’re owed here

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