Tag Archives: delays

On the record: Mixed reactions to Tuesday’s outage

The AP’s Joelle Tessler and Jordan Robertson filed a follow-up story Friday that includes a variety of quotes on the significance of Tuesday’s glitch at the FAA’s flight plan filing center in Georgia. A few excerpts:

“If this (FAA outage) happened at a power plant, I’d be telling them to open up their checkbook and expect to be fined,” said Jason Larsen, who spent five years at the Idaho National Laboratory examining electrical plants’ control systems before he became a security researcher for IOActive Inc.

Doug Church, a spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association — a union that has been locked in a contract dispute with the FAA since 2006 — argues that the agency has tried to focus on future technology to deflect its lack of diligence in maintaining its current systems. Church pointed to the agency’s lack of a “safety net of redundancy” and its “fix-on-fail” policy, which means waiting for something to break before addressing a problem.

“It’s common. You see it in retail too. It’s the whole ‘don’t fix it if it ain’t broke’ thing,” said Branden Williams, director of a unit of VeriSign Inc., which assesses the security of retailers’ payment systems. “It’s unfortunate because it’s very reactive, and it typically winds up costing you more.”

Sid McGuirk, associate professor and coordinator of the air traffic management program at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., believes that given the federal budget realities, the FAA has maintained a good balance. It keeps the system running efficiently without compromising safety, said McGuirk, a former air traffic controller and FAA manager. “From time to time, we are going to have a glitch, but it’s a tradeoff,” he said. 

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System failure delays ‘hundreds’ of flights

Reuters reports schedules are returning to normal after Tuesday’s 4.5-hour system failure of the in Hampton, GA.

The cause of the failure was not known but it was not due to a computer hacking attack, said Hank Krakowski, chief operations officer for the FAA’s air traffic division.

“It appears to be an internal software processing problem. We’re going to have to do some forensics on it,” he told reporters in a conference call.

Flight plans include information like the type of aircraft, destination and number of passengers.

The other flight-plan facility in Salt Lake City had to handle the entire country when the Atlanta system failed but the backup system quickly overloaded, [FAA spokeswoman Laura] Brown said.

“So what we had to do was dump all of the flight plan information that was in the system and then manually enter the people who were waiting to take off,” she said. “That’s what created the ripple effect throughout the system and created the delays that we had.”

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