Computer Problem Delays East Coast Flights

A computer problem at 1800 local time Wednesday night at the Nashua flight center, officially known as Boston Air Route Traffic Control Center (or Boston Center) had to shut down and reboot a computer system used to track flight routes, aircraft type, and other key information about planes flying in and out of the region, according to the Boston Globe. The system was down for about 45 minutes, although the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) said it was longer.

During the outage, controllers went back to entering flight information manually, and needed to call other air traffic centers to obtain aircraft information for flights entering New England airspace. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said there were no safety issues, but NATCA disagreed.

" 'This was, in every possible sense, a dangerously unsafe and chaotic situation,' said Kevin Bianchi, Boston Centerâ''s NATCA facility representative. 'Controllers were in essence working blind and, in many cases, actually had to question pilots to determine their location and routes of flight. Controllers were required to use a secondary backup system to safely track aircraft.' "

The problem caused delays to flights at Logan International Airport and other New England airports as well as several international routes that travel in New England airspace on the way in and out of New York.

Why the problem occurred is not known. The FAA said that it is now investigating.

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