Users of pilot-alert system that failed report new delays

WASHINGTON (AP) — Some users of a system that sends messages to pilots reported delays on Wednesday, but federal officials said the problem was not affecting flights.

It is the same pilot-alerting system that broke down spectacularly earlier this month, leading the Federal Aviation Administration to briefly stop all departing flights around the country.

An FAA spokeswoman said Wednesday the system that sends NOTAMs — notices to air missions – was online and operational. “Some users have reported slower response times due to high demand, but there have been no reports of impact to flight operations,” she added.

United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines said Wednesday’s NOTAM issues were not affecting their flights. American did not immediately respond to an inquiry.

The FAA posted an advisory saying that a NOTAM manager application was offline but other methods of entering alerts were working. The notice said that a hotline had been set up between the FAA’s air traffic control command center “and industry” – presumably meaning airlines. The application was restored later Wednesday, the FAA said.

The NOTAM system is critical to aviation because pilots are required to check the alerts before they take off.

The FAA said last week that contractors who were trying to “correct synchronization” between the NOTAM system’s main database and a backup accidentally deleted files, triggering a meltdown that led to more than 1,300 flight cancellations and 11,000 delays on Jan. 12. The FAA said it has found no evidence of a cyberattack but was continuing to investigate the outage.

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