Passengers left wondering when they’ll takeoff after FAA system outage

FAA NOTAM system was out and grounded flights. The residual impact on passengers, Tosin Fakile reports.
Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 8:30 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Some passengers at Nashville International Airport wandered the airport not knowing when they will get to their destination after delayed and cancelled flights following the FAA ground stop in the U.S. on Wednesday morning.

“We had a flight leaving at 11:55 today to go to Florida and soon as we got in the car this morning, we got a notification on our phone that said our flight was canceled,” Dennice Burgess, who was flying Southwest, said.

The FAA grounded departure flights on Wednesday morning for a few hours after a NOTAM system outage.

The outage had a significant impact on BNA.

“We had to hold 40 to 50 flights that were not able to get out on time until the FAA said at 8 o’clock our time the flights could resume,” Doug Kreulen, President/CEO of Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority, said.

Kreulen said that’s a three-hour delay that’s hard to make up throughout the day, and airlines are still trying to play catch-up.

“We just came down here to get to the airport in case there was an earlier flight,” Burgess said.

Burgess said they got in the car anyway after they were notified their flight wouldn’t happen.

“Come to find out there was an FAA system outage that we were notified about, and it corrected itself at like 8 a.m. this morning,” Burgess said. “We understand, but it has pushed our flight out. It went to 6, to 7, to 8, so we’re not exactly sure when our flight would leave.”

For Helen Liao, her flight did not get canceled, but she is hope she gets out when she’s supposed to.

“We got a text message telling us our flight was delayed for three hours,” Liao, who was also flying on Southwest, said. “I booked an Uber driver waiting for us in the hotel. If I cancel it, I have to pay for it and then I come here and I miss my time to get back with my family and work.”

Wednesday’s flight issues began at about 5 a.m. with airport officials said they were notified by the FAA that the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system was down. A system experts said all pilots are required to check before take-off.

“If they’re not able to pull that data, they don’t k now of all the restrictions. So, in Nashville, you can imagine we have runways that are open and closed, taxiways open and close. Lots of cranes for all the construction, those are notices that we put out to all the pilots so they know what’s going on at the airport,” Kreulen said.

Kreulen said the NOTAM system is all about safety.

“If you’re flying somewhere on a bad weather day and you’re breaking out at minimums, you don’t know where the cranes are at. You might not have enough time to visualize where you’re going,” Kreulen said.

With the issue resolved, passengers still said traveling in the country overall recently has been problematic.

“It has been crazy,” Burgess said.

“They have to take care of the customer,” Liao said about the airlines.

Airport officials said their big take-off time frame is between 5 and 8 a.m. when the ground stop was in place.

Experts hope over the next 24 to 72 hours all the flights will get back on schedule.