Buttigieg says US needs to ‘pick up the pace’ on FAA modernization after nationwide ground stop

The legacy US NOTAM System is set to be discontinued in mid-2025

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Monday urged the government to "pick up the pace" on modernizing the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) computer systems after a database outage earlier this month forced a nationwide ground stop. 

In an interview with Reuters, Buttigieg said the Biden administration was seeking the resources necessary to accelerate these changes at the FAA. 

Secretary Pete Buttigieg

FILE - Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, center, speaks during a briefing at the White House in Washington, May 16, 2022, as Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, left, and Environmental Protection Agency administrator Michael Regan, right, listen. But (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File / AP Newsroom)

A preliminary review by the FAA into what caused the ground stop on Jan. 11 found contract personnel "unintentionally deleted files," disrupting the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) database, a key computer system, and snarling more than 11,000 flights. 

The system provides critical safety notices to pilots, flight crews, and other users of U.S. airspaces. It contains two interdependent systems – the 30-year-old legacy U.S. NOTAM System, and the newer Federal NOTAM System. 


The legacy U.S. NOTAM System is set to be discontinued in mid-2025 and phase two of the NOTAM system modernization is expected to be completed by 2030, according to a letter the FAA sent to Congress last week. 

Buttigieg, who has held the office for more nearly two years, said it was important to look at the broader context of "aging systems and growing demand." 

Passengers wait for the resumption of flights at O'Hare International Airport

Passengers wait for the resumption of flights at O'Hare International Airport after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had ordered airlines to pause all domestic departures due to a system outage, in Chicago, Illinois, Jan. 11, 2023.  (Reuters/Jim Vondruska / Reuters Photos)

"We're working to make sure we can accelerate the NOTAM modernization but what we really need to do is pick up the pace on FAA's wholesale system modernization – all the way down to the backbone of how the data moves," Buttigieg told Reuters. "This is something that obviously has been underway through multiple administrations. It's not going to happen overnight." 

FOX Business has reached out to the DOT and the FAA for comment. 

During the 40-year-old Buttigieg's tenure, there have been widespread global supply chain issues and logjams at major ports, multiple instances of mass flight cancellations by airlines and a narrowly avoided nationwide strike by railroad workers that was only averted by an eleventh-hour intervention from Congress.


The latest transportation mishap was the most high-profile yet. It was the first full national ground stop since 9-11. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.