Major airlines, including Southwest, JetBlue, Delta and United Airlines, are back on their regular schedules after 780 flights were delayed on the morning of April 1 due to a system-wide technical failure at Aerodata. The vendor, which provides critical weight, balance and performance data, suffered an unspecified fault that took its servers offline.
Aerodata has not responded to attempts for comment, but “operations have recovered following an Aerodata issue which impacted multiple airlines’ ability to release flights. We thank our customers for their patience and apologize for the inconvenience,” a JetBlue spokesperson wrote in an email.
For American Airlines, flights resumed the morning of April 1. A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines wrote, “On early Monday morning, we had a ground stop that lasted for about 40 minutes during a brief interruption in service with a vendor that provides multiple carriers with data used in flight planning. While I don’t have the number of delays, I can share that our flights resumed operating shortly after 6:00 a.m. CDT. I don’t have the cause of the interruption to share, so we kindly ask that you contact Aerodata.”
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a tweet alerting consumers that there may be delays on major airlines the morning of April 1 and later updated the tweet to say that the issue had been solved.
Aerodata is a third-party vendor of critical flight data for major airlines, and Data Center Dynamics (DCD) recognized the complexities of flight management in an effort to be fair to Aerodata. “It is far from the only example of a system outage bringing flights to a halt. A highly complex mix of interconnecting systems with very little room for error, flight management is beset by difficulties.”
Additionally, a 2017 case study by VMware found that while Aerodata shifted to a “software-defined data center approach secured by VMware NSX and vSAN for storage,” it remains unknown whether the company has updated its facilities since then, according to DCD.