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Fri, Apr 19, 2024

FAA Allows Alaskan Flights After Computer SNAFU

Alaska and Horizon Jets End Grounded for an Hour

Alaska Airlines was given a brief ground stop by the FAA, lasting from 10:50 eastern to just about an hour later on April 17th. The culprit?

A computer system "upgrade" that messed with their flight planning capability. In a statement to the media, Alaska Airlines said "This morning we experienced an issue while performing an upgrade to the system that calculates our weight and balance," only adding that the knock-on effects of the pause would affect flights throughout the day.

 They didn't go too deep in describing the exact outcome of the issue, whether it affected the integrity of previous calculations or botched future results. Either way, the ATSCC Advisory read the same, stating "All Alaska mainline and subcarrier flights ground stop" at their purported request. Skywest remained unaffected, and was deliberately left out of the stop order. After the better part of an hour, the order was rescinded, and life continued on as usual, with the Alaska Air Group stock even seeing a surprising bump throughout the rest of the day. Now, with shares up almost 5%, Alaska pilots can cap a busy, and tiring day before getting back in the swing of things tomorrow.

While it was, in the grand scheme of things, a short hiccup of scheduling, it's just another juicy bit of meat for the media. Alaska's high-profile door plug failure continues to define the brand on social media, and any hint of an operational problem brings the scent of a scandal whenever Boeing is involved. The smaller Horizon Air didn't get nearly the amount of notice that Alaska Airlines did, though it too was included in the stop. Thinking back about a year, Southwest Airlines had a similar but much larger problem with their own scheduling system, a fiasco that snowballed into a nightmare of holiday travel that ended in a very expensive $140 million fine from the DOT.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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