IT glitch causes havoc for US air traffic

Air traffic across much of the United States has been heavily delayed following a computer glitch for filing flight plans, says the Federal Aviation Administration.

FAA spokeswoman Diane Spitalire said the agency had never experienced a computer problem this severe. “We’ve had some equipment failures but not like this,” she said.The FAA said the computer glitch did not affect its ability to safely track planes in the air. It added that the problem should be solved by 10pm GMT today. The Department of Homeland Security has ruled out any terrorism link.

“It looks like we’re slowly starting to dig out of this,” said Hank Krakowski, chief operations officer for the FAA’s air traffic division. FAA officials said they did not know how many flights had been delayed by the computer breakdown.

The delays have been worst in Atlanta, compounded by severe thunderstorms in the area, whilst operations in New York have been largely unaffected. International flights are being given priority.

The problem began at 5:25 p.m. GMT on Tuesday when a communications link failed in the system that processes flight plans at a facility south of Atlanta, FAA officials said. The cause of the failure was not yet known is thought to have been caused by an internal software processing problem. The FAA have ruled out a computer hacking attack.