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US airline system failure due to human error

Last week’s communications disruption for US airlines was caused by human error. The US Air Traffic Control Authority (FAA) said yesterday that an employee of the service provider accidentally deleted company-critical files. The outage paralyzed air traffic in the United States for several hours.

As of midnight Wednesday, pilots were unable to access a system called Notices to Air Missions (NOTAM), which provides information about hazards, changes in airport facilities and information that could affect flights. The FAA later grounded the flight for safety reasons.

The authority’s initial report said contract workers “accidentally deleted files” while working on the computer’s databases. The investigation is still ongoing, but there is no evidence that the disruption was deliberate or a cyber attack.

Criticism of the FAA was raised because of the disruption. The air traffic control said it had taken steps to make the NOTAM system “more resilient”.

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