In the wake of thousands of grounded planes and canceled flights, most Americans can agree on at least one thing: As Transportation Secretary of the United States, Pete Buttigieg makes a great stop sign.
Sure, that won’t get you to your destination, but while you’re huddled in airports or stuck on a train, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that the language being used to discuss your plight will be inclusive — even, presumably, when he called President Joe Biden to tell him he had no idea what was going on and pilots were calling his decision to ground every flight in the nation, something that hasn’t happened since 9/11, “ridiculous.”
(Video: Fox News)
Fox News’ Jesse Watters highlighted Buttigieg’s many failures since being appointed by Biden on Wednesday’s broadcast of “Primetime,” noting that the “dropout” has been more concerned with renaming things than fixing them.
“When flights were delayed last summer because of the pilot shortage, you know, the vax mandate, Pete clapped,” Watters said. “And when rail unions were about to strike, Pete was in Portugal getting tan. When a snowstorm crippled the country, thousands of flights were canceled, Pete said he’d get you a refund. Did you get your refund yet? I don’t think you did.”
“Today, every flight in America was canceled,” the host continued. “Every flight! This time, Pete couldn’t blame the airlines or the weather. The FAA’s computers went down and thousands of us were stranded. But don’t worry, Pete called Biden.”
The results didn’t exactly inspire confidence.
“I just spoke with Buttigieg, and they don’t know what the cause is,” Biden told a reporter on Wednesday. “I was on the phone about 10 minutes. I told him to report directly to me when they find out.”
NEW: Pres. Biden on FAA system outage: “I just spoke with Buttigieg and they don’t know what the cause is.” pic.twitter.com/qcfrjYPoc9
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) January 11, 2023
“I’m glad Biden shared that with us,” Watters remarked. “It doesn’t matter if America grounds more flights than we did since 9/11. Biden still loves Pete.”
According to CNN, the latest debacle was caused by a corrupted file that was discovered late on Tuesday.
“Our preliminary work has traced the outage to a damaged database file,” the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement late Wednesday. “At this time, there is no evidence of a cyberattack.”
Once the air traffic officials realized they had a problem, they decided to reboot the system, a source familiar with the FAA operation told CNN.
The plan backfired, causing an outage, massive delays, and, ultimately, the order to ground all flights.
The computer system that failed was the central database for all NOTAMs (Notice to Air Missions) nationwide. Those notices advise pilots of issues along their route and at their destination. It has a backup, which officials switched to when problems with the main system emerged, according to the source.
FAA officials told reporters early Wednesday that the issues developed in the 3 p.m. ET hour on Tuesday.
Officials ultimately found a corrupt file in the main NOTAM system, the source told CNN. A corrupt file was also found in the backup system.
Essentially, the officials decided to turn the whole thing off and turn it back on again, a process that can take roughly 90 minutes.
When the system finally came back online, “it wasn’t completely pushing out the pertinent information that it needed for safe flight, and it appeared that it was taking longer to do that,” the source revealed.
In response, the FAA, at around 7:30 a.m. ET issued a nationwide ground stop. All domestic departures were halted.
Meanwhile, according to Watters, Buttigieg was ensuring no one felt left out by the “NOTAM” moniker.
“Pete got the job in the Cabinet because he dropped out, endorsed Joe over Bernie, and likes to talk about racism,” Watters stated. “The guy was on a racist bridge tour while the FAA computers crapped out. And instead of fixing the computer system, they renamed it.”
“It’s called ‘NOTAM,’ which used to stand for ‘Notices to Airmen,'” the host explained. “But that’s not inclusive. ‘Airwomen’ must have been offended or ‘Air-they.’ And so, Pete changed it to ‘Notices to Air Mission,’ and patted himself on the back. Job well done. And then it all fell apart.”
It fell apart, CNN’s source said, because the NOTAM system, like our overall infrastructure, is old and in need of an update.
“Because of budgetary concerns and flexibility of budget, this tech refresh has been pushed off,” the source said. “I assume now they’re going to actually find money to do it.”
Buttigieg told the press that the decision to ground every plane was made out of an “abundance of caution.”
An “abundance” that has caused more than 8,000 flight delays, 1,000 canceled flights, and “more disappointment on the way as airlines and airport scramble to play catchup,” the Daily Mail reports.
And pilots are having a hard time understanding why the system shutdown would have necessitated the grounding of every plane in the nation, because, as former Congressman Adam Kinzinger — also a former Lt. Col. in the Air National Guard — tweeted, “It’s no big deal at all.”
“Relax… it’s no big deal at all,” Kinzinger wrote. “It is absolutely no safety concern. None. It’s nice when it’s up but there are so many other ways to get NOTAMs.”
Ok I’m watching some of the coverage on the NOTAM (notice to airmen) system being down in aviation…
Relax… it’s no big deal at all. It is absolutely no safety concern. None. It’s nice when it’s up but there are so many other ways to get NOTAMs.
— Adam Kinzinger #fella (@AdamKinzinger) January 11, 2023
Ervin Coburn, a private pilot in Washington, told the Daily Mail, things were less complicated in the past.
“Back in the day, we’d just make a phone call,” Coburn said. “Currently, everything is so digital that once the system goes down, I don’t think they have enough personnel to accommodate everybody’s phone calls. They have all the current information – it’s just a matter of getting it to the pilots.”
“These problems are always down to budget cuts or personnel cuts,” he added.
When the FAA, under Buttigieg’s watch, opted for more inclusive language and changed the name to “Notices to Air Missions,” it also added “features” to the system, Coburn said, calling the failure a “wake-up call.”
“The United States has the best airspace system in the world and we still do, but this is a wake-up call in regards to when technology doesn’t work -whether it’s hacked or cracked, for whatever reason, we should be able to go back to old school systems,” he said. “It looks like we’re not prepared for that, and the world is watching. This is a wake-up call.”
Florida software engineer Duane M. Moody, who used to serve as an Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighter in Billings, Montana, told the Daily Mail that there are enough checks in place, and halting flights because NOTAMs were down was “ridiculous.”
“Air traffic control has to contact pilots to tell them if there is a problem,” Moody said. “If I had a hazard like a broken light on a runway, I would immediately tell ATC and they’d tell the pilot about the hazard directly, before it was even logged as a NOTAM. What’s more, NOTAMs are just an advisory — a pilot still has discretion to either take it into account or not.”
“I don’t know what caused the outage but it shouldn’t have impacted travel the way that it has,” he contended. “Something is seriously broken here.”
It’s enough to make a seasoned pilot reach for the tin foil.
“You have to wonder if it’s bureaucracy or maybe, if there was a system related to NOTAM that went down that is more critical,” Moody said. “I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist but it may be something we don’t know. The last time air traffic was halted was 9/11 so for it to be done today because of NOTAMs? It’s ridiculous.”
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