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Data glitch grounds hundreds of flights for several airlines

by COMPILED BY DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE STAFF WIRE REPORTS | April 2, 2019 at 1:44 a.m.

U.S. airlines were working their way through hundreds of delayed flights Monday after a data disruption temporarily suspended takeoffs across the country.

Southwest Airlines Co. was particularly hard hit, as the carrier voluntarily grounded all its planes for 40 minutes during the technology glitch at AeroData Inc., a provider of aircraft weight and balance information. Delays affected 992 of Southwest's flights, according to data tracker FlightAware.com, representing about a quarter of the airline's 4,000 daily flights.

"Because of our size and scope, and combined with our ground stop, it had a pretty big impact to our operation," said Dan Landson, a Southwest spokesman.

The intermittent problem affected the regional partners of Delta Air Lines Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc. American Airlines Group Inc. said some of its commuter affiliates were affected.

Delays began appearing first in Chicago, New York, Miami and Boston before they spread to Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit and Washington, D.C.

The interruption lasted for about 48 minutes starting at 5:24 a.m. in Washington, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The weight and balance information provided by AeroData is needed for flight planning, the agency said. Mainline and regional carriers were affected to varying degrees.

Details of an aircraft's weight, and how the weight is distributed, are required before a flight can take off. Such calculations also must be approved by airline dispatchers in remote offices, complicating flight schedules if communications or computer systems crash. Calls to AeroData weren't immediately returned.

Greg Martin, a spokesman for the FAA, said the effect was "minimal" in terms of the number of planes.

United said 150 flights by its United Express regional carriers were delayed.

Soon after the delays began early Monday, an official with Delta Air Lines had apologized to a passenger stuck at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, tweeting that "we are currently experiencing a System-Wide Outage we are working diligently to get it back up and running."

A Southwest official tweeted to a passenger that "this is affecting us on a system-wide level, so it's hard for us to determine any info about your connecting flight until everything is back up and running. Apologies for the inconvenience."

Information for this article was contributed by Mary Schlangenstein, Justin Bachman, Alan Levin and Sarah Jacob of Bloomberg News; by David Boroff of the New York Daily News; and by Dana Hedgpeth and Patricia Sullivan of The Washington Post.

Business on 04/02/2019

Print Headline: Data glitch grounds hundreds of flights for several airlines

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