There was a national stoppage of all flights Wednesday morning because of a corrupted file in the Federal Aviation Administration’s computer system.
We all recall the Southwest meltdown a few weeks ago which grounded thousands of passengers and stranded people in airport terminals for days. Wednesday’s meltdown wasn’t the fault of any airline, though I’m sure airline employees at ticket counters received earfuls of complaints.
What happened was… Airline officials noticed a database issue Tuesday afternoon and decided the best way to fix it was to reboot the entire system. The FAA literally did what they do in “The IT Crowd,” a British sitcom about a corporation’s IT department, whose first comment upon answering their phones, and eventually became their outgoing message, “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”.
The manager of the IT department in the show doesn’t know anything about computers or what “IT even stands for. Her two-man crew once gave her a box to display during a speech that they claimed contained the entire internet. Maybe that’s what’s going on with the FAA. Currently, nobody’s in charge of the FAA. OK, that’s not true, but the Senate has yet to confirm a director of the agency. Maybe they should get on that. The top job in the FAA is filled by an interim director after Trump’s appointed goon left, but sycophantic moron Louis DeJoy is still running the Post Office into the ground. Go figure. Dammit, we are the IT Crowd.
Back to turning it off and back on again, which is what a reboot is but sounds so much better than “we unplugged the system and waited 30 seconds before plugging it back in. If you’re still in the air, good luck finding Denver.” By the way, Johnny in “Airplane!” did unplug the runway lights.
They turned it off and back on, but did it on a Wednesday morning because that’s one of the slowest days for air travel which you should take note of because flights can be cheaper on Wednesdays, and a lesser chance of being stuck in the middle seat between two fat guys on a Southwest flight for a layover at Midway. The FAA figured rebooting on Wednesday would cause the least disruption. As it turned out, they had to stop all departures for about two hours.
The computer system that failed was the central database for all NOTAMs (Notice to Air Missions) nationwide. Those notices advise pilots of issues along their route and at their destination. It has a backup, which officials switched to when a problem with the main system reared its ugly head. Yeah, about that backup… it had a corrupt file too. My theory is that someone at the FAA was downloading a lot of porn.
The FAA is assuring us there was not a cyberattack but maybe they should go with that because it’s probably less embarrassing than the porn thing.
The stoppage was ordered at 7:30 a.m. eastern time. Flights still in the air were told good luck by air traffic controllers who kept a static electronic or paper record at their desks of the active notices. We’re fortunate that the sky didn’t become like that 1980s arcade game Asteroids, where the ship is dodging objects flying straight at it. The technology for that game is probably the same for today’s FAA. The reboot lasted 90 minutes which tells us the FAA is still using Windows 95 (damn, I’m dating myself in this blog).
Republicans were quick to blame Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and you know they really want to say “this wouldn’t have happened with a straight Transportation Secretary.” Jim Jordan did tweet that this never happened under Donald Trump, but Gym needs to shut up become Covid happened under Donald Trump. Unlike Trump, the Biden administration doesn’t ignore huge problems that hit the nation.
Shit happens. I think we blame Buttigieg (who’s one of the smartest people in government) if they don’t update the system, which was NOT updated during the Trump administration. Remember when Trump complained that President Obama didn’t restock the national stockpile of medical supplies to deal with a nationwide medical crisis, though Trump had three years to do so himself? Hell, Trump even blamed President Obama for not leaving a supply of tests for Covid-19, never mind the fact that the virus didn’t develop until three years after President Obama left office. So using the Trump standard, it’s his fault the FAA system wasn’t updated.
As for other Republicans, they complain about the FAA meltdown while trying to reduce funding for the agency. Republican expertise with aviation stops at renaming airports after Ronald Reagan (which was a slap in the face to flight controllers because Reagan fired over 11,000 of them). If the GOP had its way, they’d fund the FAA with those tiny bags of peanuts you used to get on flights (they’ve since updated to airline brands of Check-Mix and I knew I’d eventually get a peanut joke in here somewhere).
I would trust Otto from the film “Airplane!” to land a plane before I’d trust any Republican. Surely, Republicans can’t be taken seriously.
Music note: I listened to Verbena.
Facebook Suspension Update: There are 26 hours left in my Facebook suspension for typing the word “Taliban,” and I’m raising hell when I return.
Signed prints: The signed prints are just $40.00 each. Every cartoon on this site is available. You can pay through PayPal. If you don’t like PayPal, you can snail mail it to Clay Jones, P.O. Box 3721, Fredericksburg, VA 22402. I can mail the prints directly to you or if you’re purchasing as a gift, directly to the person you’re gifting.
Notes on my book, Tales From The Trumpster Fire: There are 19 copies of my book in stock, which go for $45.00 each, signed. Also, I have copies of my first book from 1997, Knee-Deep in Mississippi available for $20.00.
Tip Jar: if you want to support the cartoonist, please send a donation through PayPal to email@example.com. You can also snail it to P.O. Box 3721, Fredericksburg, VA 22402.
Watch me draw: