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Flights resuming after FAA deals with key system outage

Airlines trying to get back on track after nationwide ground stop
Airlines trying to get back on track after nationwide ground stop 03:00

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Thousands of flights were delayed across the country Wednesday, including some at Philadelphia International Airport, after an outage to a key computer system that planes need to safely fly.

The FAA said Wednesday morning that flight departures and normal air traffic operations are "gradually" resuming. 

Departures were previously halted after the outage to the Notice to Air Missions System, which "alerts pilots about closed runways, equipment outages, and other potential hazards along a flight route or at a location that could affect the flight." 

Travelers at the airport said the outage threw a wrench in their plans.

"I'm a little bit worried because we're going to lose our flight and it's two different companies that we're going to take the layover from. We don't know if they're going to reimburse us or change our flights correctly," a traveler at PHL said. 

Airline representatives told the traveler they had to contact the help desk. They then found out via Twitter that the FAA system was down.

"Very frustrating," traveler Peg Gillis said in the morning. "In fact, when I booked my flight months ago, I thought 'oh, when Southwest went crazy, what am I going to do?' And then I thought 'Well, it's all fixed now.' And here I am, and it's not fixed."

Her flight to Phoenix, Arizona was delayed three hours.

"It is an inconvenience, no question about it," Gillis said.

Travel impacts of the FAA system outage

As of 12 p.m., there were over 200 delays at PHL. 

"We remind passengers to check with their airlines, that's where they're going to get the most up to date information on what's going on with their flight, how late it is, if there is a delay," said Heather Redfern, a spokesperson for PHL. "And if you're picking somebody up from the airport, check the airline, get their flight number and check with the airline as well so that you're not waiting hours for a flight that won't show up for awhile."

CBS Philadelphia anchor Jim Donovan said the morning delays will have a ripple effect on airline schedules across the country as crews and passengers with layovers remain stranded.  

United Airlines tweeted that it is offering travel waivers to customers impacted by the flight disruption.

The agency previously said it ordered a pause on departing flights "to allow the agency to validate the integrity of flight and safety information."

The FAA told CBS News the pause did not affect medical or military flights.

The major outage with the Notice to Air Missions System caused delays to pile up at airports including Philadelphia International Airport.

Pilots and airports rely on the system when making route plans, and it is critical to air travel. When it goes down, planes can't safely fly. The system provides real-time updates on hazards and restrictions to all commercial airline pilots. Flights were grounded as a precaution. 

Technicians worked Wednesday to fix the issue.

Chopper 3 was over Philadelphia International Airport showing planes stranded. Some were taking off during our 9 a.m. newscast. 

Chopper 3 over PHL Airport while flights grounded due to FAA system being down 01:27
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