Kayla Kovarna, spokeswoman for the Des Moines International Airport, says the Federal Aviation Administration shut down all air traffic after a key computer system called Notice to Air Missions or NOTAM failed.
“It’s the FAA’s tool to communicate and ensure safety among all airline operators,” Kovarna says. “This morning, there was an outage of the entire system. They worked swiftly to try to get that up, and out of an abundance of caution, they wanted to do system checks before they opened back up the sky.”
While flights started resuming around 8 AM Central, many thousands of connecting flights nationwide were delayed, causing cascading backups and many hundreds of cancellations.
“Any passenger who has a flight today, I would strongly suggest that you check the flight status before you even head to the airport,” Kovarna says, “as there may be ripple effects and impacts in delayed flights or even maybe some potential cancellations throughout the day.”
Only one commercial flight was able to depart from Des Moines at 6 AM, while starting at 6:04, all other flights were delayed until after 9 AM. Now, airlines are scrambling to resume flights and get passengers — and their luggage — to their destinations.
“A significant number of passengers were impacted this morning with the delays,” Kovarna says, “however, passengers are able to check their flight status via their airline’s mobile app or via FlyDSM.com to check the status of their flight to make sure that the new scheduled departure is on time.”
Federal officials say there was -no- evidence a cyber attack caused the vital computer system to fail, but an investigation is underway. Not since the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001 has there been a nationwide grounding of flights.