FAA investigates software failure at Orlando airport

FAA investigates software failure at Orlando airport

By Dennis Blank

Special to GCN

NOV. 30—The Federal Aviation Administration says it still does not know what caused new software it developed for its air traffic controllers to fail on Sunday. The failure caused delays for at least 28 flights in Orlando, Fla., on the nation's busiest holiday travel weekend.

The software was tested before being installed at the Orlando International Airport tower in early November, officials said.

"It worked fine," FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. But it will not be put back into the control tower computer system in Orlando until sometime after Jan. 1, she said.

The new software was an upgrade to give more screen capacity to controllers monitoring flights and to make it easier to "hand off" flights to other controllers.

On Sunday afternoon, FAA resolved some minor glitches. But as the day wore on, "more data tags dropped off," Bergen said. Flight numbers and other information about jets landing and taking off disappeared from radar screens.

Because of the problems, FAA technicians pulled the upgrade and reinstalled the old software the following day, Bergen said.

Airport spokeswoman Carolyn Fennell said flights were delayed anywhere from 30 minutes up to two and a half hours.

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