ATLANTA (AP) -- A problem with the FAA system that collects airlines' flight plans caused widespread flight cancellations and delays nationwide Thursday. It was the second time in 15 months that a glitch in the flight plan system caused delays.
Tri-Cities Regional Airport Marketing and Air Service Development Director Melissa Thomas said, we had a few delays this morning on Delta. The 11:19 scheduled arrival for Delta just got in, so the 11:44 departure is also delayed. But that is it so far.
FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said she doesn't know how many flights are being affected or when the problem will be resolved.
Another FAA spokesperson, Paul Takemoto, said the problem started between 5:15 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. EST. The outage is affecting mostly flight plans but also traffic management, such as ground stops and ground delays, he said.
Regarding flight plans, airplane dispatchers are now sending plans to controllers and controllers in turn are entering them into computers manually, he said.
"It's slowing everything down. We don't know yet what the impact on delays will be," Takemoto said.
An AirTran Airways spokesman said there's no danger to flights in the air, and flights are still taking off and landing.
However, spokesman Christopher White said flight plans are having to be loaded manually because of a malfunction with the automated system.
"Everything is safe in the air," White said.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport, has been particularly affected.
AirTran had canceled 22 flights and dozens more flights were delayed as of 8 a.m. EST. Delta Air Lines also has been affected.
The FAA said in a statement that it is having a problem processing flight plan information.
"We are investigating the cause of the problem," the agency said. "We are processing flight plans manually and expect some delays. We have radar coverage and communications with planes."
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