FAA blames software upgrade for delays of hundreds of flights

FAA blames software upgrade for delays of hundreds of flights

A software upgrade is the most likely cause of a technical problem at an air traffic control center in Virginia that forced delay of hundreds of flights along a large swath of the East Coast, said a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration on Sunday.

According to the FAA, the aim behind the upgrade was to help controllers with more tools at their disposal. But the new features have been disabled till the time complete assessment of the malfunction is done by the systems contractors.

The technical problem led to nearly 492 delays and 476 cancellations, resulting in about 70 percent of normal Saturday air traffic at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, 72 percent at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and 88 percent at Dulles International Airport, said the agency.

A decision to reduce arrival and departure rates in the Washington area between 11 a.m. and 4 pm on Saturday for safety reasons also contributed to the backlog.

The FAA said that it was attempting to route the flights around the affected area. However, the trouble was also seen with flights departing from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports in New York that normally fly over the Washington region as they head southward.

The FAA said technical issues caused the problems at an air traffic control center in Leesburg, Virginia. The agency said about 4 pm that the technical glitch has been fixed and officials were preparing to lift any remaining orders to hold planes on the ground.

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