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United says hackers didn’t cause its systemwide shutdown today

A United Airlines Boeing 747-400 taxis at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, February 7, 2015.
Reuters/Louis Nastro
Sitting, waiting, wishing.
  • David Yanofsky
By David Yanofsky

Editor of code, visuals, and data

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

The problems that kept all of United Airlines’s planes from taking off earlier today (June 2) were not the result of a digital attack. There is “no indication that this was caused by an outside entity,” airline spokesman Charlie Hobart said in a phone interview.

United didn’t elaborate on why it was confident that hackers didn’t cause the issues with its pilots’ electronic flight plans. Barring an “outside entity,” the issue would appear to be the result of an internal problem, but the airline wouldn’t say if it was a glitch, human error, or deliberate act.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates civil aviation in the US, said it isn’t looking into the matter. Allison Duquette, an FAA spokeswoman, said United was addressing the issue. The US Department of Transportation, of which the FAA is a part, referred all questions about the incident to United.

The FAA ordered a “ground stop” on all United planes not already in the air between 9:25am and 9:33am Eastern time after the issue emerged. United said it began delaying flights around 9am.

The computer problems came just a month after American Airlines experienced a similar service disruption, and during a period where the United States is expanding its reliance on new technology in the cockpit.

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