What is the Notice to Air Missions System (NOTAM)? Equipment behind FAA outage that halts US flights

Thousands of flights across the US were grounded after the Federal Aviation Administration’s system that sends vital communications to pilots experienced an outage.

The FAA said in a statement that it is working to restore the Notice to Air Missions System, but until it is fully operational again, flights in national airspace will be affected.

Home departures are expected to stop until at least 9:30 a.m. ET.

Flight tracking site FlightAware showed more than 1,300 delays and nearly 50 cancellations across the US after 8 a.m. ET.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a tweet that President Joe Biden was informed about the FAA system outage, and that there was no evidence of a cyberattack.

What is NOTAM?

A NOTAM is a memo sent to workers involved in flight operations—such as airport ground staff and pilots—notifying them of an abnormality within the United States National Airspace System.

Notifications are sent when flight operations personnel need to be alerted to important information that is not known in advance so that it can be communicated through normal communication channels.

They inform staff, in real time, about abnormal airspace conditions, as well as changes in any procedures, services or risks in the National Airspace System.

Until December 2021, the notices are known as Notices to Airmen.

The FAA changed the name to make it “inclusive of all aviators and missions.”

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