United Airlines Resumes Flights After Ground Stop Due to Technology Issue

Date: Wednesday, September 6th, 2023
Source:  Wall Street Journal

United Airlines  said flights resumed after it paused departures Tuesday afternoon citing a systemwide technology issue.

United cited a software update that it said caused a widespread slowdown in the airline’s technology systems.

The disruption was relatively brief—the ground stop was lifted at about 1:45 p.m. ET, about an hour and 15 minutes after United had asked the Federal Aviation Administration to hold flights across the country, according to FAA air-traffic control advisories. The airline’s flights were unable to connect to dispatch through normal means, according to a separate air-traffic control notice.

United said it is still looking into the problem, but that it wasn’t a cybersecurity issue.

Tuesday’s ground stop came at the tail end of the busy Labor Day travel weekend. United had canceled just a handful of flights as of midday Tuesday, and about 9% of its mainline flights were delayed, according to FlightAware, a flight tracking site.

Airlines depend on a vast array of software systems and can be vulnerable to glitches. Failure of a vendor-supplied firewall caused widespread delays for Southwest Airlines in April.

The FAA has also had technology issues. Flights across the U.S. were halted for nearly two hours in early January when a system for distributing pilot alerts went offline. The FAA said a contractor had unintentionally deleted computer files in the system.

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