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Computer problems delay flights across U.S.; effect on West Coast airports is unknown [Updated]

[Updated 7:21 a.m.: FAA spokesman Ian Gregor says the computer-system problem in Atlanta has been fixed, but there will be residual delays.

"The flight plan processing system has been restored. There will be some residual delays," Gregor said in an e-mail.]

Federal aviation officials said they are not sure whether a glitch in the FAA system that collects airlines' flight plans will affect travel to and from West Coast airports.

“It might be too early here for significant departure delays because traffic volume is light at this time of morning,” said Ian Gregor, communications manager for the Federal Aviation Administration’s Western-Pacific region.

Gregor confirmed the agency is currently having a problem processing flight plan information. Flight plans include all planned information for a flight, including destination, type of aircraft, speed and destination. They are processed nationwide by computers at facilities in Atlanta and Salt Lake City.

Nationwide, there have been widespread cancellations and delays of flights this morning because of a problem with the system that processes flight plans in Atlanta.

The FAA is investigating the cause of the problem. Agency workers are processing flight plans manually and are experiencing delays.

Gregor said this is not a safety issue. “We have radar coverage and communications with planes,” he said.

[Updated 8:42 a.m.: Gregor said there was a similar problem with flight-plan processing in the Atlanta office in August 2008, delaying about 650 flights in the East and Midwest. An FAA spokesman at the time referred to it as an “internal software processing” problem. Gregor said there likely will be minimal effect on West Coast departures because the outage occurred early in the morning when traffic volume was low.

-- Baxter Holmes

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Regrettably but predictably, this week's FAA recidivist inability to maintain its own flight-control equipment has already been mischaracterized by special interests seeking to further their own political agendas – including mischaracterization by New York Senator Charles Schumer.

The self-dealing touts would have you believe that the solution to FAA management incompetence is to throw US$35,000,000,000 more of YOUR dollars at the problem in the form of an ill-conceived 2009 FAA Reauthorization Bill (S. 1451/HR 915). By their logic, because 1,000 monkeys have trouble writing "Hamlet" on Smith Corona typewriters, we should buy each monkey a Gateway 700XL instead.

FAA's failure is the failure of humans. Corrupted humans. Not corrupted files. The failures include an FAA ‘Administrator' named Randy Babbitt - college drop-out and dim political hack. A ‘COO' UAL plant named Hank Krakowski who led a fellow stunt-pilot to his death in Illinois in 1999. A drama major-now-‘Redesign Project Manager' named Steven Ray Kelley who helped snuff out 6 innocent lives in a mid-air 2-plane crash over New Jersey in 1985.

Yet other humans have let us down, too. Almost a full year after an Administration change, the remainder of the federal government has still failed to effect the timely thorough Oberstar-urged ‘Top-To-Bottom' clean-out of inept vampiric FAA personnel still lurking the halls of 800 Independence. These residual aeromercantile malefactors are vestiges of the failed Marion Blakey/Bobby Sturgell era of revolving-door cozy relationship between agency and industry. After Thursday's NADIN debacle, the American people are once again reminded that the "regulator" and the "regulated" are still one – and that they still suck. Now they want to use their own incompetence as the pretextual basis to suck-out US$35 Billion more of your American dollars. That's THEIR bail-out. That's THEIR stimulus.

We were promised change. Yet our current landscape is populated by invisible federal judicial appointments at standstill, medical panels providing harmful misinformation regarding cancer screenings, banking regulators who cannot explain why bonus-babies are high-fiving each other on Wall Street, slip-of-the-tongue law enforcement officials promising terrorist death-penalties before the trial commences, and Sturgell-hangover FAA personnel who can do nothing but fulfill their infamous Tombstone Agency culture by mishandling systems and technology thereby risking the death of innocent Americans. We again urge Congress and the federal government to terminate S. 1451, say ABSOLUTELY NO! to the requested US$35 Billion Dollars of wasted FAA Reauthorization money, and fire feckless FAA management en masse. Let Randy Babbitt and his pack of fellow agency imposters now step aside in favor of responsible professionals who can actually regulate professionalism, and who can actually remember where they left the keys to the tech-room!


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