Fixing the FAA is what airline leaders and consumers alike are asking for, after major outages over a busy weekend due to tech issues.
Last week, a system that provides vital and required safety information to pilots and dispatchers went down, largely because it was operating on outdated software and hardware. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) called a ‘time out,’ grounding all flights using US airports for several hours while they rebooted the system. Even after the reboot, the system remained down for half the day, causing many cancellations and long delays while workarounds were found.
Airline leaders have responded by asking the federal government to do more to back the FAA, so they have the resources to prevent this from happening again.
“The FAA, I know, is doing the very best they can with what they have, but we need to stand behind the FAA,” Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said Friday.
Focusing on fixing the FAA, instead of blaming them, is a compassionate response from the airlines after the FAA spent two years castigating the same airlines for delays and customer service. But airlines have been pressing for modernization in the air-traffic control system for years.
In 2018, Congress directed the FAA to modernize the NOTAM system, which is what failed earlier this month. But when FAA requested money for the modernization, they were told to find it in their own budget.
“Coupled with this week’s failure, significant questions are raised about how long these issues have existed and what is needed to prevent such issues from occurring again,” 122 lawmakers said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Again, this is completely unacceptable.”
Fixing the FAA requires newer equipment, more staff, more expertise, and above all, more money.
“Investment is required,” said Robert Isom, CEO for American Airlines. “It’s going to be billions of dollars, and it’s not something that is done overnight.”