What is the FAA’s Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM)?

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Thousands of flights across the U.S. 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 was working to restore its Notice to Air Missions System, but until it was fully operational again, flights across the national airspace would be affected.

Domestic departures were expected to be paused until at least 9:30 a.m. ET., but at around 8:55 a.m. ET the FAA lifted the ground stop.

Flight tracking site FlightAware showed more than 1,300 delays and almost 50 cancellations across the U.S. just after 8 a.m. ET.

Was the FAA hacked?

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a tweet that President Joe Biden had been briefed on the FAA’s system outage, and that there was no evidence of a cyberattack.

What is a NOTAM?

A NOTAM is a memo sent to workers involved with flight operations—like airport ground staff and pilots—alerting them to an abnormality within the United States National Airspace System.

The notices are sent out when flight operations personnel need to be alerted to essential information that isn’t known far enough in advance for it to be publicized via usual communications channels.  

They inform staff, in real-time, about the abnormal status of the airspace, as well as changes to any procedures, services or hazards in the National Airspace System.

Until Dec. 2021, the notices were known as Notices to Airmen.

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

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