San Francisco, CALIF. — Following recent computer glitches in California that caused flight delays, the FAA has suspended the installation of software upgrades in its air traffic control systems nationwide, CNN has confirmed.
The order from FAA headquarters in Washington covers so-called host software in the FAA’s new high-speed computers, which went online at the beginning of this year. The software is supposed to tell air traffic controllers about an aircraft’s identity, altitude, speed and direction.
Under the order, FAA air traffic control centers nationwide are not to install or test any more software upgrades until further notice. An FAA spokesman told CNN the order applies to all 21 of the FAA’s Air Route Traffic Control centers in the United States. Although 18 of the centers already have had software upgrades this year, this moratorium applies to any future upgrades, which are installed periodically.
The FAA is focusing on problems in the West, where two major failures have occurred in just five days.
The FAA said technical teams will be sent to the region to examine three possible areas of trouble: the software, the hardware and the installation procedures. The teams are expected to be dispatched within the next few weeks.
On Monday morning, a computer glitch at the FAA’s regional center in Fremont, California, led to the loss of all northern California and western Nevada flight plans, resulting in a backup of flights. The cause of the computer failure was not known on Monday, said FAA spokesman Jerry Snyder. The data system was brought down late Sunday night for maintenance, but initially failed to restart Monday morning.
That incident followed one in Los Angeles, California, on Thursday that delayed or grounded hundreds of flights headed to the city. The FAA said a software problem was responsible for that computer crash.
The FAA said the software used in that case failed when it could not receive data from some incoming aircraft. Synder could not say on Monday what three FAA centers had not received the latest software upgrade.
CNN San Francisco Bureau Chief Greg Lefevre, Susan Richter and Chuck Afflerbach contributed to this story.