Earlier this month, the Federal Aviation Administration faced an internal computer software maintenance mistake. This “glitch,” attributable to a corrupted and damaged database file, caused the Notice To all Air Missions, or NOTAM, system to crash. The NOTAM is responsible for alerting pilots of all flight hazards as well as real time restrictions while in the air. These could be anything from closed runways to equipment outages or other potential hazards along the route that could affect the safety of the flight.
This error resulted in a nationwide grounding of all flights along with a hold on all future departures until the NOTAM could be reinstated. The system was restored later that day, but according to the tracking website Flight Aware, there were still more than 10,000 delays and 1,300 cancellations on the day of the outage.
Our engineers at TWR Lighting acted fast to establish a manual alert system when the automated NOTAM system was down, to ensure the safety of the sites we monitor. “I noticed a problem with the system before we were aware of the issue, which led us to quickly adjust our system to manually process the NOTAMS. We then contacted the FAA and learned that this was in fact related to the NOTAM crash that was ongoing.” said TWR Lighting Senior Engineer, James Armstrong. The quick reaction and adjustments made by the TWR engineering and monitoring team allowed us to continue making sure that the towers with lighting issues were still reported to the FAA during this time.
This readjustment was made possible through our 24/7/365 Network Operations Center. The NOC has the ability to report activity or failures of light systems, card access systems, HVAC units, compound shelter temperatures, smoke and heat, incoming AC voltages and any additional site items that provide a "Form C" dry contact (normally open/closed). We have talented employees that are dedicated to monitoring and quickly responding to problems that may occur on all sites that we monitor, just like this technical failure.