The eerie silence and rare occasion of grounding flights sparked concern on social media where people began wondering what the cause of the computer malfunction was - with some quickly reaching for unfounded conspiracies and other theories.
People tossed out ideas like a cybersecurity attack on the FAA computer system, an incoming physical attack, or a national security issue.
\u201cI am not a conspiracy-person, but these \u201cevents\u201d w/re flights (FAA and Southwest) are weird. Betcha that Jordan will be subpoenaing Pete - to rake him over the coals. Also, these \u201csecret\u201d docs at Penn w/re Biden. Another odd event.\u201d
Although tempting to theorize why the computer system shut down, the FAA put out a statement on its website explaining the cause of the outage.
They said their Notice to Air Mission system (NOTAM) had failed following an overnight outage.
"The FAA has ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures until 9 a.m. Eastern Time to allow the agency to validate the integrity of flight and safety information," the statement said.
\u201cim sorry- which country ?!?!? \u2014 The US! Apparently the communication system for ALL airlines is down right now. They have no time estimate for when it will be back so we\u2019re all grounded! \ud83d\ude2d\n\nConspiracy theorist in me says someone \u2026 https://t.co/WidD1EORWG\u201d
— Mira \ud83c\udf3f (@Mira \ud83c\udf3f)
\u201cFAA systems failing, nurses going on strike.. pilots too \n\nUS systems are getting payback for mistreating workers. That\u2019s my conspiracy theory \ud83e\udd37\ud83c\udffd\u200d\u2640\ufe0f\u201d
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre notified people on Twitter that President Joe Biden had been briefed on the situation and while "there is no evidence of a cyberattack at this point" they would be asking the Department of Transportation to conduct a full investigation.
Although a formal investigation will likely occur in the coming months, people online still theorized who was to blame for the freak incident.
Names like Vladimir Putin, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, and even President Biden were thrown around.
\u201cBreaking: FAA outage causing massive flight disruptions in U.S. I am willing to bet that either Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping is responsible for this! What will they do next? #FAAflightdisruptions\u201d
— David Alastair Moat (@David Alastair Moat)
\u201cNBC RIGHT NOW : all. US flights grounded. COMPUTER outage...BULLSHIT.. Putin sending one across our BOW. ???\u201d
\u201cInteresting how the most effective SSST #petebuttigieg takes the hit with flight-system going down after over-site committees were remove by Republicans. \ud83e\udd14\n\nRepublicans work for #Putin \n\n#dismantling America\u201d
— KT \u2648\ufe0f blue check mark (@KT \u2648\ufe0f blue check mark)
Buttigieg wrote on Twitter, "FAA is working to resolve this issue swiftly and safely so that air traffic can resume normal operations, and will continue to provide updates."
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