WASHINGTON, W.Va. (WV News) — Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has teamed up with Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., on a bill aimed at preventing future problems with air travel in the U.S..
The NOTAM Improvement Act would require the Federal Aviation Administration to establish a task force to strengthen the resiliency and cybersecurity of its Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) system.
On Jan 11, failures of the NOTAM system, which alerts pilots of safety and location hazards on flight routes, led to canceled and grounded flights across the nation.
“It was chalked up to be part of the air traffic control technical system,” Capito said Thursday during a news briefing. “That shouldn’t be happening. That shouldn’t be happening in this country.”
The bill would “get rid of antiquated systems” and would require an investigation into what occurred on Jan. 11, Capito said.
“It impacted every single airport in this country, every single flight, every single passenger,” she said. “We need to make sure we’re addressing that issue.”
The task force would be comprised of representatives from air carriers, airports, airline pilots, aircraft dispatchers, air traffic control specialists and FAA personnel unions, general and business aviation representatives, as well as aviation safety and cybersecurity experts.
A similar bill was introduced in the House earlier this month by Pete Stauber, R-Minn.
“Travelers in the United States deserve safe and dependable air travel service, not nationwide ground stops caused by system failures,” said Klobuchar in a statement. “By upgrading and modernizing the FAA’s NOTAM system, our bipartisan legislation would improve aviation safety and prevent system outages from derailing travel. As co-chair of the bipartisan Travel and Tourism Caucus, I look forward to working with Rep. Stauber and my colleagues in the Senate to advance this bill and strengthen our air travel infrastructure.”
The FAA has already conducted a “preliminary review” into the NOTAM outage, according to a statement released by the agency on Jan. 19.
The review determined that “contract personnel unintentionally deleted files while working to correct synchronization between the live primary database and a backup database.”
The agency did not find evidence of a cyberattack or malicious intent, according to the statement.
“The FAA made the necessary repairs to the system and has taken steps to make the NOTAM system more resilient,” it reads. “The agency is acting quickly to adopt any other lessons learned in our efforts to ensure the continuing robustness of the nation’s air traffic control system.”