Federal Aviation Administration software Wednesday failed The thousands of flight delays and cancellations are 30 years old and will take at least six years to renew, a government source familiar with the situation told CNN.
The FAA now says “employees who failed to follow procedures” caused the computer system malfunction that triggered Wednesday’s delay.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has held several meetings with top FAA officials since Wednesday’s meltdown and has made it “very clear” that he wants the NOTAM database updated much faster than the FAA’s planned timeline, according to CNN.
“The core operating system for the database has been around since the 1990s,” the source said. “Regardless of the improvements the system has made in recent years, it still has the heart of an 89-year-old man.”
In the 2023 budget estimate, the FAA requested $29.4 million for its Aeronautical Information Management program, which includes the NOTAM system. Describing the system, the administration said it “requires the removal of failed vintage hardware that currently supports that functionality in the National Space System.”
Meanwhile, the FAA is stuck trying to address new technology, including drones and electric helicopters, with its outdated technology, the source said.
“We need to bring equipment online much faster than we have,” the source said, adding that a larger investment is required because it’s more complicated than an over-the-air iOS update. “It’s been gone for years.”
CNN has reached out to the FAA for comment on updates to the NOTAM system to date and its timeline for modernization.
On Thursday, the FAA said the computer system malfunction that triggered the delay was caused by “crews failing to follow procedures.”
The agency says it has conducted a “preliminary analysis” of the failure of the NOTAM database.
“The agency determined that the data file was damaged by personnel who failed to follow procedures,” the FAA’s statement late Thursday said, adding that operations had returned to normal. “The system worked perfectly and cancellations were less than one percent today.”
Earlier, a government source said the computer system that first failed CNN was 30 years old and was at least six years away from a scheduled upgrade.
The failure is expected to be a major sticking point as the FAA enters its federal funding reauthorization process — especially with the GOP now in control of the House. The FAA is already drawing criticism from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Airlines are fielding their own share of government criticism The table is collapsingThe FAA has also sounded the alarm about lack of funding, limited staffing and outdated technology.
During a September US Chamber of Commerce event, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby told CNN’s Pete Mundine that the airline industry needs to rally around the FAA following a summer plagued by flight cancellations and delays.
“The FAA needs more funding,” Kirby said in an interview on stage before airline leaders. “They need more investment in technology.”