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- Air traffic was temporarily halted last week after an FAA system, known as Notice to Air Missions, crashed.
- Over 10,000 flights were delayed, but Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said he doesn’t blame the agency.
- Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is pushing to confirm President Joe Biden’s pick for FAA Administrator.
Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian doesn’t blame the Federal Aviation Administration for last week’s system outage.
On Wednesday, January 11, all flights in the US were temporarily halted after the FAA’s Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system crashed, delaying over 10,000 flights.
NOTAMs send essential, safety-critical information to pilots when other means of communication cannot be done further in advance. These real-time messages identify potential hazards, like a rocket launch or a taxiway closure.
Many passengers and industry personnel looked at the FAA for the failure, which was caused by a data file “damaged by personnel who failed to follow procedures,” the agency said. However, Delta’s CEO, who described the event as “unacceptable,” said it comes down to funding.
“I lay this on the fact that we are not giving them [the FAA] the resources, the funding, the staffing, the tools, the technology they need,” he said in an interview with CNBC on Friday. “Hopefully this will be the call to our political leaders in Washington that we need to do better.”
In a separate interview, American Airlines CEO Rob Isom told CNBC that there needs to be more investment in FAA technology.
“It’s going to be billions of dollars and it’s not something that’s done overnight,” he said. “It’s something that we have to plan for and build over a number of years.”
The system crash was the first time in more than 20 years that the US national airspace system was completely shut down, and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is taking measures to avoid any future problems.
“Our immediate focus is technical — understanding exactly how this happened, why the redundancies and the backups that were built into the system were not able to prevent the level of disruption that we saw,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
After the outage, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will push to confirm President Joe Biden’s nomination of Phillip Washington as FAA Administrator.
The agency has been without a confirmed leader since March when former administrator and former President Donald Trump’s appointee Stephen Dickson stepped down, CNN reported.
“There is no doubt about it: it’s time to clear the runway for President Biden’s choice for FAA Administrator, Phil Washington,” Schumer said in a statement to CNN on Sunday. “With recent events, including airline troubles and last week’s tech problem, this agency needs a leader confirmed by the Senate immediately.”