FAA Reporting System Failure Grounding US Flights | DeepSeas Analysis

January 11, 2023

Yesterday was the first Patch Tuesday of the year, which some may speculate to be the cause of the FAA System Failure Grounding US Flights. Currently there is no indication of a cyber attack. 


Summary: On 11 January 2023, reports on social media and news sites began circulating that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) system was down. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg says that the reason for the system failure is unknown. There is currently no indication of cyber attack.


Analysis: There are too many factors for what could cause a system failure to speculate, but some notable events have occurred in the last 24-hours. Yesterday was the first Patch Tuesday of the year and several patches were issued, some of which could cause a conflict in systems and may explain the cause of system failure. The United States announced yesterday another weapons package for Ukraine, which may result in a cyber attack as retribution.

These two scenarios are speculation and cannot be considered definitive until more information is available.

Actions: DeepSeas will continue to monitor the situation as it develops.

1/12/2023 Update: According to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), “The FAA is continuing a thorough review to determine the root cause of the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system outage. Our preliminary work has traced the outage to a damaged database file.” The FAA did not explain what led to the corruption of the database file or how it caused the NOTM, which is the system responsible for safety updates to flight crews, to go down nationwide. Speculation that a cyber-attack caused the outage highlights the concern of cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure. And, while the FAA said this was not a cyber-attack, it pointed to a vulnerable aspect of air travel systems used by the United States.