Effects Ripple Throughout Country
By Friday evening, it was stormy weather causing delays to
flights along the northeastern coast of the United States... but
earlier in the day, airports from New York to Boston were socked in
by a glitch in the air traffic control network computer system.
"Everyone's kind of edgy," passenger Pat Maio told Newsday, as
he waited over four hours for his flight to Atlanta to depart from
John F. Kennedy International. "The explanations are real vague.
Immediately you think the worst."
The "worst," on the minds of many harried travelers, was due to
last week's foiling of an alleged terrorist plot to plant
explosives along a fuel feeder line to JFK. But Friday's snafu at
JFK had nothing to due with terrorism, officials said, and
everything to do with antiquated technology.
What caused the problem? According to the FAA, a cascading
systems failure hit its computer system, dumping hundreds of flight
plans that had been entered into the network. Controllers found
themselves having to reenter that information manually throughout
The glitch, which hit the northeast region but affected flights
throughout the country, was actually repaired by late Friday
morning... but its effects lingered throughout Friday afternoon and
evening... just in time to throw a wrench into what is
traditionally an extremely busy time for air travel.
Other East Coast airports didn't fare much better than JFK. In
fact, the situation at LaGuardia was reportedly worse, with flights
arriving four hours later than average. Departing flights were
delayed by about three hours. FAA spokesman Jim Peters said ATC
placed a ground stop on all inbound flights, due to controller
concerns about too many planes in the skies.
New York Senator Charles Schumer said Friday's problems are a
sign the FAA badly needs to invest in improvements to air traffic
"When it comes to these computer systems, they're way behind
schedule," he said. "The technology is there to make them much