The Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday that a contractor “unintentionally deleted files” that led to the grounding of every domestic flight on Jan. 11.
The issue occurred when a currently unidentified contractor was working with other personnel to sync the main database used for the Notice to Air Missions systems with a backup. The files were unintentionally deleted, the FAA said in a statement. Steps have since been taken to prevent the issue from recurring.
“The agency has so far found no evidence of a cyberattack or malicious intent,” the FAA continued. The agency noted that personnel are acting rapidly to adopt any and all major lessons learned throughout the outage, and are continuing to increase the robustness of the U.S. air traffic control system.
Update 6: We are continuing a thorough review to determine the root cause of the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system outage. Our preliminary work has traced the outage to a damaged database file. At this time, there is no evidence of a cyber attack. (1/2)
— The FAA ✈️ (@FAANews) January 11, 2023
All domestic flights were grounded overnight and into the morning on Jan. 11 when the NOTAM system failed. The system allows air traffic control to alert pilots when there are potential hazards on their flight paths. (RELATED: Insane Images Show Passenger Plane After It Flipped Upside Down On The Runway)
After the failure, some believed it was caused by a series of huge solar flares unleashed by our sun on the same day. This was quickly refuted, but did shed light on the potential risks posed by significant solar flares and storms into the future.