Software UpDate Causes Delays

12218664299?profile=RESIZE_400xUnited Airlines said last week that a software update triggered a ‘glitch’ that forced it to halt flight departures nationwide, briefly crippling the US biggest airline carrier on a busy holiday travel window.  US federal officials said United crews had been unable to contact airline dispatchers through normal means.  “A software update caused a widespread slowdown in United’s technology systems,” United said in a statement.  The airline said it was not a cybersecurity issue.[1]

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which runs the nation's airspace, said United asked it to stop the airline’s departures nationwide.  The FAA said the issue was limited to United and its subsidiaries.  The ground stop did not affect planes already in flight, United said.  The grounding lasted a little more than an hour.

By late afternoon 5 September on the East Coast, United had canceled only seven flights, which is well below its average of about 16 per day over the busy Labor Day weekend, according to figures from tracking service FlightAware.  However, more than 350 United flights were delayed, which is 13% of the carrier’s schedule, far more than rivals American, Delta and Southwest on a day that many holiday vacationers were expected to fly home.

Southwest Airlines had a similar outage in April of 2023 that grounded all departing flights for about an hour and caused more than 2,000 flights to be late.

The FAA caused all US departures to be halted briefly in January when a system used to alert pilots to safety hazards failed.  The agency blamed a contractor that it said accidentally deleted files while synchronizing the alert system and its backup.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who has criticized airlines for flight problems and other issues over the past year, posted last week that the FAA was “receiving more information about the cause and scope of the issue, and DOT will make sure (United) meets its obligations to affected passengers.”

This may not have been a malicious cyber-attack, but it definitely was a cyber issue.  Three hundred and fifty (350) flights delayed. 

This article is presented at no charge for educational and informational purposes only.

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