Mystery FAA Computer Outage Sparks Fear of Cyberattacks

Woman at airport. Original public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

On Wednesday morning, just weeks removed from the hellacious travel nightmare that surrounded the Christmas holiday, a new issue has grounded the entire American air travel industry…and the cause is still a mystery.

This time around, it wasn’t the antiquated 1990’s-era scheduling system in use by Southwest Airlines that caused the massive issue, but rather a mysterious outage at the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Federal Aviation Administration is lifting a ground stop on flights across the U.S. following a computer outage early Wednesday that resulted in thousands of delays and hundreds of cancellations quickly cascading through the system at airports nationwide.

The FAA ordered all departing flights grounded early Wednesday morning, but lifted that order just before 9 a.m. Eastern after several hours.

However, delays and cancellations continue to snowball.

More than 3,700 flights were delayed and more than 640 were cancelled.

The stop order by the FAA impacts almost all flights of shippers and commercial airlines.

As of this writing, the White House still had no idea what could have caused such a widespread and dangerous issue.

While the White House initially said that there is no evidence of a cyberattack, President Joe Biden said “we don’t know” and told reporters he’s directed the Department of Transportation to investigate the cause of the disruption.

Biden addressed the FAA issue Wednesday before leaving the White House to accompany his wife to a medical procedure at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center outside of Washington. He said he had just been briefed by Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who told him they still had not identified what went wrong.

“I just spoke to Buttigieg. They don’t know what the cause is. But I was on the phone with him about 10 minutes,” Biden said. “I told him to report directly to me when they find out. Air traffic can still land safely, just not take off right now. We don’t know what the cause of it is.”

Fears of a transportation-systems cyberattack have been on the rise of late, as Russia continues to lash out at the western world for the assistance they’ve provided to Ukraine in repelling the Kremlin’s invasion.