United Airlines outage
Jose M. Osorio—© Jose M. Osorio/ZUMA Press/Corbis

Why Almost 1,000 Flights Were Grounded This Weekend

A software upgrade at an air traffic control center in Virginia went terribly wrong on Saturday, leading to 492 delayed flights and 476 cancelled flights, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration told The Guardian.

Reagan National Airport was forced to cancel 50% of inbound flights and 42% of outbound flights; their delays averaged about 3 hours. Similarly, 58% of inbound flights and 36% of outbound flights were cancelled in Baltimore with average delays of over an hour.

The upgrade was performed on the En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) satellite-based computer system for air traffic management, a new computer system implemented by the FAA in March of this year.

The administration posted a statement on Facebook saying that the update was meant to provide air traffic controllers with additional tools. They have assured consumers that they disabled the new features while they assess the issues.

PHOTOS: Beautiful Long Exposures of Airplanes at Night

College Point Blvd., College Point, Queens, N.Y., June 2014.
College Point Blvd., College Point, Queens, N.Y., June 2014.Kevin Kunstadt
College Point Blvd., College Point, Queens, N.Y., June 2014.
36th Ave., Flushing, Queens, N.Y., June 2014.
Hermon MacNeil Park, College Point, Queens, N.Y., June 2014.
Greenpoint, Brooklyn, N.Y., June 2014.
East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, N.Y., June 2014.
Greenpoint, Brooklyn, N.Y., June 2014.
Greenpoint, Brooklyn, N.Y., June 2014.
Queens Botanical Garden, Flushing, Queens, N.Y., June 2014.
Flushing, N.Y., July 2014.
Ocean Blvd., Atlantic Beach, N.Y., July 2014.
Spray View Ave., Far Rockaway, N.Y., July 2014.
College Point Blvd., College Point, Queens, N.Y., June 2014.
Kevin Kunstadt
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