News Article - June 8, 2007

Computer failure delays PHL flights  
  Philadelphia International Airport is experiencing a number of delays because of a computer failure in the nation's air-traffic control system, officials said. A computer system in Atlanta that processes pilots' flight plans and sends them to air-traffic controllers failed late Thursday or early today, FAA spokeswoman Diane Spitaliere said.

   The agency rerouted the system's functions to another computer in Salt Lake City, which overloaded due to the increased volume of data, magnifying the problem. Phyliss Istenval, a spokeswoman for Philadelphia International, said she's unsure of how many flights are affected, but did say there are "more than usual."

   Istenval said poor weather in New York is also slowing airport traffic, she said. Staff at the airport will canvass the terminals tonight to seek out stranded travelers. They will be provided with blankets, pillows and snacks, Istenval said. Although the computer problem was fixed shortly before 11 a.m. today, its effect lingered on into the late afternoon, especially in New York, where computer systems took two extra hours to get back online, Spitaliere said. She said the flight delays in the rest of the country were not as severe.

   Doug Church, a spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said the problem forced controllers to enter flight information manually, which he described as a time-consuming practice. "With some of these East Coast airports, nothing is getting in right now," Church said this afternoon.

   AMR Corp.'s American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner acknowledged the computer troubles and said the nation's largest carrier experienced about 50 cancellations on the East Coast, with LaGuardia departures being hit the hardest. Betsy Talton, a spokeswoman for Delta Air Lines Inc., said the Atlanta-based airline was experiencing delays of roughly two hours today in the Northeast, but she attributed the backlog to thunderstorms. Atlantic City International Airport officials said they are not experiencing any problems or delays.

Source - Courier Post