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American Airlines forced to ground flights over IT issues

US airline confirms "connectivity issue" that prompted it to halt flights from several airports yesterday has now been resolved

American Airlines claims to have resolved an IT issue that forced it to halt flights from Miami, Dallas and Chicago for several hours on Thursday 17 September 2015.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed the decision to stop the flights had been at the request of American Airlines, before blaming the groundings on “airline issues”.

The issues lasted around two hours and – in a post-incident statement to the Wall Street Journal – an American Airlines spokesperson blamed the downtime on unspecified “connectivity issues”.

“We have resolved connectivity issues that led to a ground stop at our Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth and Miami hubs,” the statement read.

“We apologise for the inconvenience and are working to get our customers on their way as soon as possible.”

Computer Weekly contacted American Airlines for further details on what caused the connectivity issues, but had not received a response at the time of writing.

The airline industry is no stranger to IT glitches, as carriers have moved to digitise every stage of the booking and check-in process, and provide passengers with the option to use self-service tools.

The American Airlines downtime was considerably shorter and smaller than the five-hour outage that hit the National Air Traffic Services’ IT system in December 2014, which caused widespread delays at airports across the UK.

This was caused by a failure of the computer systems that allow ground communications to take place between air traffic controllers in the UK and Europe.

An inquiry into the issue later blamed the problems on a long-standing bug in the National Air Traffic Services’ System Flight Server that dated back to the 1990s.

Read more on Managing IT and business issues

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It's frightening how vulnerable we've left our infrastructure to errors, mishaps and attacks. This one only inconvenienced a few thousand people, but it's time we pay attention to whatever's next. Because, for sure, there will be a next time. 
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That would be such a huge burden to work on critical systems like in the airline industry. Fortunately this one seemed relatively minor and only caused inconveniences to customers.
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