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Spy Plane Fries Air Traffic Control Computers, Shuts Down LAX

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A relic from the Cold War appears to have triggered a software glitch at a major air traffic control center in California that led to delays and cancellations of hundreds of flights across the country, sources familiar with the incident told NBC News. ( Mais...

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SootBox 11
Damn U2. I wish Bono would fly commercial like everyone else.
James Driskell 1
joel wiley 8
Palmdale never saw a U-2 before? That's beyond grain-O-salt time. Maybe the computer rejected the LF 60+ and without a valid elevation tried to clear the entire air column for it? It sounds like an infelicitous intersection of many factors which went beyond the models.
Then again, maybe something just broke at the wrong time.
Mike Boote 3
I agree. After all the U-2 lives in California at Beale
linbb 2
Now they also fly drones out of there. Quite a few of the old hangars are gone also that housed the SR71 AC.
I agree. With out a doubt that airspace has had this exact same situation in the past. There has got to be something more to it....where is my tin foil hat?!?!
matt jensen 1
Right here! And, they never saw a Blackbird either? I betcha the Blackbird could find the 777 without breaking a sweat. Afterall, if they could find all the abandoned cars and fridges in Iowa cornfields ~
chalet 1
The Blackbird is a different model SR-71
James Carlson 1
Of course they've seen the U2 before. But they used to see it with HOST and now see it with ERAM ... thus the FAA order that went out saying that all entries (VFR and OTP) must now include an altitude assignment.
Paul Thomas 4
This headline got my attention "Spy Plane Fries Air Traffic Control Computers" because it didn't indicate it was one of OUR planes, and "fries" implies a physical interference, a strong enough EMP etc. to disable the hardware. Software glitches do not a "fried" computer make. Great headline to get you to click through as I did when I first saw it...
Arnold Fishman 2
What if this was a russian plane with some kind of jamming equipment probing our infrastructure? lots of russian air traffic close to our shores lately...
Ken Mann 2
From someone who knows first hand, it wasn't a, "Cold War era spy plane" that caused the computer crash. It was as simple as a data entry person who improperly put a flight plan into the NAS that caused it. A glitch in a altitude assignment caused it.
Jonathan Brandt 1
Ken, I think you are correct. They filed VFR.
Pa Thomas 2
ERAM has had its ups and downs, certainly. And it has been "working" at centers across the US for a while now. The "HOST" system ERAM is trying to replace had failures, also. Stuff happens. Not very often, happily, but stuff does.

I smell a big rat in this story. Makes no sense at all.
Pa Thomas 2
And for the commenters discussing "radar jamming": the system that failed is on the flight data side, not the radar side.
Ray Arment 1
It was a UFO and the U2 is a cover-up story.
James Irwin 2
Seems like the FAA needs some new equipment at LAX and all over, no doubt. This can't be the first time a U-2 has been in LAX airspace????
Ian Guild 2
U2 flights from theUK heading East used to switch off their transponders passing FL 430 (IIRC) in the climb. Several hours later they would reappear, headin West descending through that level. Never had any problems
crk112 1
Maybe if the FAA would upgrade their archaic software and hardware they wouldn't have problems like this. I'm surprised they were Y2K compliant.
Martin Haisman 1
Sound strange - was it a new type and did the electromagnetic field play havoc with the new system?
Chris Muncy 1
Someone is passing the buck.....
Riggggghhhhhttttttt!!!!!!! An I live in a galaxy, far, far, away.... This is one of those, "I got to see it to believe it", stories. I'm sure that's not the first time a U-2 has flown at an high altitude in that area of Californian. Where's Special Agent Sculley and Moulder when you need them?
rmchambers 1
Not sure I'm buying that story, sounds like a nice "excuse" to blame a system failure of ERAM on something "neat" sounding. Something broke at the wrong time sounds a lot more likely as stated above(below).
Jim Elcock 1
Read all the comments - Hmmmmm..... makes one wonder ?
lynx318 1
Programmer error, max ceiling height of software exceeded by max range of radar. Solution alter ceiling parameter & kick original programmer in the proverbial's.
I can't wait to find an opportune moment to use that word "infelicitous".....I like it a lot.....
jimmy gates 1
NBC....really? Consider the source.
Well, ain't that just perfect?
Jonathan Brandt 1
The news report that I read on this said that the U2 was filed as VFR when it was at FL600, and this is what cause the computer glitch.
C Smith 1
Sorry but this is the newest FAA computer, and is a very important part of the whole NextGen ATC system. Can't flight plan and seperate aircraft 10 miles below it. Just sorry but isn't Lockmart the same folks making the F35?
ADXbear 1
I Live here in the Palmdale area... and if you believe that story, I've got swap land for sale here.. we have trouble with cell service here from time to time. You can see hundreds o radar sites and antenna on top of the surrounding mountains all supporting Edwards testing... The LAX Center building is on a public street next to the BlackBird Park.. Just saying..
This land. I would like to make an offer. I happen to be an African Prince and have to spend four billion dollars before the end of the week. I will have my people send you a check in the amount of eleventy six million dullars. Once we meet an agreement you can simply send me back the balance. :-)
lynx318 2
I checked, eleventy six million dUllars African = two dOllars US.
Dolf Brouwers 0
Every time I hear 'new computer system'
it makes me 69 a very old IBM system could put a man on the moon and now 2014, a high flying 'object' crashes the most advanced ATC system...huh
I smell a rat !
Michael McDonald 0
It would be interesting to know what the radar system was seeing from the a/c. Any indications of jamming?

Any thoughts on why it took 90min... seems like the U2 would have passed through the airspace or landed in that time. Or is it descending less than 2k ft/min?

I wonder whether they panicked in ATC? "Unidentified a/c in class A coming into LA airspace unannounced... MH370 showing up? 9/11 happening all over? attach?"
Steven Fortson 0
Or, something was flying overhead, and someone accidentally left a certain system switched on, and when the ATC radar hit it, it did what it was supposed to do.
JoDee Huntsman 1
I agree, this smells like an oops.
Aaron Cannata -1
ERAM is a new system that apparently doesn't know how to handle things like the old system did. That's governmental progress. One step forward, two steps back.
Tony Smith 0
Government today: we'll make things half as good as the old system, and charge >10x what the old system cost for the additional "functionality". And lots of people still want the govenrment to take care of them hand to foot. Sheesh.
joel wiley 8
True, but that 10x cost is paid to the contractors which in turn makes their corporate shareholders happy. So why are you complaining? Everybody wins, except maybe the taxpayers.
jimmy gates 1
You left out the main beneficiaries, campaign contributions...
canuck44 -2
The only plausible scenarios are that the software looked at this as a Denial of Service issue and shut down or the U-2 itself either accidently or intentionally jammed the system to give it positions that could not be resolved by the software. Either way there should have been a manual override after confirming the aircraft position and altitude with the Air Force or directly to the aircraft.
Robert Powell 0
I suspect that the U-2 is capable of spoofing incorrect altitude and coordinates via its transponder so that it could appear to be a commercial aircraft. This probably occurred on accident. The ATC guys would have started immediately redirecting air traffic and by the time they found out was going on their entire schedule was probably screwed up. This is just a guess. It sounds like the "true" story will probably never be released.


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