Department of Transportation's Pete Buttigieg said he's ordered an investigation into the cause of Wednesday's FAA software outage that grounded domestic flights nationwide. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Jan. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg said Wednesday there is no evidence that this morning's FAA outage affecting domestic flights was caused by cyber terrorism, but he won't rule that out until an investigation is completed.
"There's been no direct evidence or indication of [a cyberattack], but we are also not going rule that out until we have a clear and better understanding of what's taken place," Buttigieg said in a CNN interview Wednesday. He said a key question to consider is whether or not the FAA's system is out of date.
Buttigieg tweeted, "I have directed an after-action process to determine root causes and recommend next steps."
Buttigieg also said the FAA has determined that the safety system affected by the overnight outage is fully restored.
Buttigieg said the domestic flights were grounded nationwide by the FAA out of an abundance of caution to keep passengers safe.
The FAA has lifted the ground stop it placed on all U.S. domestic flights Wednesday morning and said normal air traffic operations gradually are resuming nationwide. The domestic flights were stopped earlier in the morning as the FAA worked to restore its Notice to Air Missions system.
In a tweet, the FAA said "Normal air traffic operations are resuming gradually across the U.S. following an overnight outage to the Notice to Air Missions system that provides safety info to flight crews. The ground stop has been lifted."
Thousands of air passengers nationwide are still facing delays with 7,539 flights still delayed and 1,161 U.S. flights cancelled as of 1 p.m. Wednesday, according to flightaware.com as airlines sort out the re-booking of flights.
All domestic flights in the United States came to a standstill Wednesday morning while the Federal Aviation Administration worked to restore its Notice to Air Missions system after an outage.
The FAA ordered all airlines to pause domestic departures until 9 a.m. EST to allow the agency "to validate the integrity of flight and safety information."
The FAA system, known as NOTAM, alerts pilots and airports of real-time hazards.
It shut down around 3:28 a.m., but the FAA said some functions started to return by 6 a.m. as it opened a hotline to address equipment issues.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted that President Joe Biden had been briefed on the NOTAM issues and said there was "no evidence of a cyberattack" as of Wednesday morning.
"The president directed DOT to conduct a full investigation into the causes," Jean-Pierre added. "The FAA will provide regular updates.
Individual airlines warned their customers about the delays.
"The Federal Aviation Administration is experiencing an outage with its NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) system, which provides critical flight safety operation information," American Airlines said. "We are closely monitoring the situation, which impacts all airlines and working with the FAA to minimize disruption to our operation and customers. We encourage customers to check aa.com for the latest flight information."
Southwest Airlines followed with a message confirming the hiccup.
"We are closely monitoring a data issue with FAA systems, which may impact the start of operations today on Jan. 11, 2023," Southwest said. "Please check your flight status in the Southwest app or website to watch for any flight status changes. If your flight status changes substantially, we will message the day of travel contact listed on your reservation by their preferred contact method."