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Harrisburg International Airport recovers from nationwide NOTAM system outage

Thousands of flights were grounded Wednesday due to a nationwide Federal Aviation Administration system going down.

DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. — Thousands of flights were grounded Wednesday morning due to a nationwide Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) system going down. 

The Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) systems gives pilots information about conditions that could impact the safety of the flight while en route. Harrisburg International Airport (HIA) was one of the thousands of airports that had planes still sitting on the tarmac. 

“We had seven airplanes sitting on the ground when normally we’d have one or two,” said Scott Miller, spokesperson with HIA. 

Miller told FOX43 that HIA was in a difficult spot Wednesday morning because the ground halt, cancellations and delays didn’t just impact the airlines. He said the delays also impact the concession workers and even the cleaning crew. 

“This did impact us; this is between the FAA and the airline,” said Miller. "The impact on the airport was people were here waiting for three hours instead of 30 minutes, you know, and it puts more pressure on the airport, the concessionaire and parking because things are bunched together but really not too much on the airport itself; this is between the airline and the FAA."

The ground stop lasted several hours, and according to FlightAware, around 8,000 flights were delayed in the U.S. Miller said HIA had a handful of delays and only one cancellation for a flight coming out of Charlotte, N.C. to Harrisburg. 

Leisure travel declines significantly in the first two weeks of January, which Miller says is the slowest season for travel. During the holidays, Miller says millions of people pass through TSA to make it to their destination for Christmas and New Year's. 

“This is the best time this sort of thing could’ve happened,” said Miller. “Historically, this is the slowest week of travel in the United States.”

According to a senior government official, a corrupted file affected the primary and backup NOTAM systems overnight from Tuesday into Wednesday. An investigation into who is responsible for the corrupted file is ongoing. 

“What people need to realize if they’re flying tonight, or tomorrow, or really anytime, make sure you check your flight status in the airline app before you come to the airport,” said Miller. 

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