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Image source: message from the FAA about NOTAM issues

On January 11th, 2023 the FAA halted flights all across the United States, paralyzing air traffic for hours. While FAA blamed human error for the failure (a contractor unintentionally deleting files in a system) a closer look makes clear that aging infrastructure is at the core of the problem. The failure of the NOTAM system is symptomatic of an insidious problem now affecting the National Airspace System – aging infrastructure and functional obsolescence.  This failure also highlights both the risk to the flying public, and the economic disruption associated with not replacing aging, safety critical aviation infrastructure in a timely manner.

A flight information board on January 11, when the FAA halted all departures for nearly two hours. ALEX WONG/GETTY IMAGES.

The Wall Street Journal published an in-depth article that focused on the NOTAM system failure and the Senate Commerce committee hearing on FAA’s aging safety critical infrastructure, stating “It was the first nationwide ground stop since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and shook an industry struggling to cope with a postpandemic surge in travel”

The FAA blamed a contractor for unintentionally deleting computer files in an alert system, which tells pilots about restrictions and hazards along their routes.

The GBAIC has been instrumental in advocating for the modernization of aging safety critical Aviation Infrastructure, and helped to secure funding for this important initiative in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

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