Travel misery for tens of thousands after air traffic control computer problem grounded flights across the East Coast

Thursday, August 20, 2015 by

A system operated by the Federal Aviation Administration was back in service this afternoon after it experienced a problem earlier in the day that caused massive flight delays. (Article by Mia De Graaf and The Associated Press, republished from

More than 100 flights were grounded in Washington, Baltimore and New York by the ‘technical issue’ in Virginia.

The problem was resolved at 4pm ET, but delays of up to two hours were still expected to stretch into the evening.

At least 140 flights were cancelled in Washington and Baltimore, according to air traffic tracker, and tens of thousands of people were left stranded from about 9.45 am ET.  

The FAA said that a computer system at an air traffic center in Leesburg, Virginia – used by controllers to direct high-altitude flights – was back in service seven hours after the glitch hit.

Earlier in the day, the agency said it was investigating the root cause of the problem, and was working closely with the airlines to minimize impacts to travelers.

Information posted online by the FAA indicated that the problem concerned the En Route Automation Modernization computer system, also known as ERAM.

Installation of the system was completed earlier this year at the last of the centers – years behind schedule.

As a backlog built up during the day on Saturday, high-altitude flights were being navigated around the affected area as operators try to clear space on the heavily congested runways, Bergen added.

By mid-afternoon, 50 percent of inbound flights and 42 percent of outbound flights had been cancelled at Reagan National, and delays were averaging about three hours, according to FlightRadar24. In Baltimore, 58 percent of inbound flights and 36 of outbound flights had been cancelled, and delays were averaging over an hour.

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