Information from the FAA on Sunday said the upgrade was designed to give air traffic controllers more tools. The technical problem caused about 500 flight delays and nearly 500 cancellations, mainly on the East Coast.
WASHINGTON — A technical problem at an air traffic control center in Virginia that caused hundreds of flights to be delayed or canceled along a large swath of the East Coast was possibly caused by a software upgrade, according to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration on Sunday.
The FAA said the upgrade was designed to provide more tools for controllers, but that the new features have been disabled while the systems contractor completes an assessment of the malfunction.
There were roughly 492 delays and 476 cancellations related to the technical problem, the agency said, which resulted in about 70 percent of normal Saturday air traffic at the Baltimore-Washington International Airport, 72 percent at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and 88 percent at Dulles International Airport.
Part of the backlog was the result of a decision to reduce arrival and departure rates in the Washington area between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday for safety reasons.
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Flights departing from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey and John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports in New York that normally flight over the Washington region as they head southward were also affected.
The FAA initially blamed the problem on “technical issues” at an air traffic control center in Leesburg, Virginia.
Information posted by the agency Saturday suggested the problem was with the En Route Automation Modernization computer system, known as ERAM, at the Leesburg Center. The agency on Sunday confirmed that the problematic upgrade was to this computer system, however there is “no indication that the problem is related to any inherent problems with the En Route Automation Modernization system.”•