In a post on Facebook, the FAA said it had disabled the new features added from the upgrade until it completes its investigation. It directly affected flights at Baltimore-Washington international, Ronald Reagan Washington National, and Dulles international airports, which in turn affected flights around the country.
“The FAA identified a recent software upgrade at the Leesburg, VA high-altitude radar facility as the source of Saturday’s automation problems”, the agency said in a statement.
The FAA blamed technical issues for this problem at the air traffic control center at Leesburg, Virginia.
A total of 492 flights were delayed and 476 cancelled because of the glitch, the FAA said, admitting initially that it did not know what was causing the problem. The current fix suspended the function entirely to eliminate the possibility of problems until the FAA and contractor Lockheed Martin implement a permanent solution.
A new function in the latest ERAM software upgrade provided individual controllers with the ability to set up a customized window of frequently referenced data.
Bear in mind – that’s just for flights flying in and out of Washington, but the city is a major international hub and, as a result, thousands of people missed connecting flights to destinations across the US and overseas.
The software issues were part of an upgrade of the En Route Automation Modernization system installed by Lockheed Martin.
But the information remained in memory until the storage limit was filled and this consumed processing power needed to operate the overall system.
New software intended to speed jetliners to their destination is to blame for the debacle Saturday that tied East Coast air travel in knots, causing nearly 1,000 airline cancellations and delays, the Federal Aviation Administration said Tuesday. “There are widespread impacts on airline flight operations throughout the regions”, said Jonathan Dean, a spokesman for Baltimore’s airport.
Disgruntled passengers said their flights were re-routed or there were dozens of planes ahead of theirs in line to take-off.