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Flight delays fade as airports recover from computer glitch, FAA says

Worst flight delays on Thursday morning came in Atlanta, Washington, and New York area. FAA grapples, again, with flight-plan computer glitch.

Flight cancellations appear on screens near AirTran ticketing counters at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta Thursday. A problem with the system that collects airlines' flight plans has caused widespread cancellations and delays across the country.

John Spink/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP

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A computer problem at the Federal Aviation Administration caused flight cancellations and delays at US airports Thursday, but by mid-morning an FAA map showed slowdowns confined mainly to airports surrounding the cities of New York and Washington.

It is the second time in 15 months that a glitch appeared in the system that collects airline flight plans, causing delays.

"Systems that allow for the automated processing of flight plan information have been restored," Kathleen Bergen, an FAA spokeswoman in Atlanta, said by e-mail received by the Monitor at 10:30 a.m.

She said the problem showed up shortly after 5 a.m., which caused air traffic controllers to have to manually input flight plans. Air Traffic Control radar coverage and communication with aircraft are not affected.

"We are investigating the cause of the outage," Ms. Bergen said. "The FAA has contingency plans in place that allow the system to operate safely when we experience problems such as this."

Among major airports shown on the FAA's online map of flight conditions, three were tagged red as of 11 a.m.: Reagan and Dulles airports near Washington, and Teterboro in New Jersey. Red means airline delays are greater than 45 minutes on both takeoffs and landings.

Several airports also showed significant departure delays, tagged orange: Philadelphia, La Guardia in New York, and Newark, N.J. In this mid-Atlantic region, the FAA map cited weather (low cloud ceilings) as a key reason for delays.

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