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FAA Computer Glitch Fixed; Delays Lessen

The problem with the FAA system that caused widespread flight cancellations and delays nationwide Thursday morning has been resolved, lessening expected delays.

Photo: Becky Quick for CNBC.com

The FAA said they are still not sure of the cause of the glitch and how many flights will be affected.

Paul Takemoto, a FAA Spokeperson, said the problem started between 5:15 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. EST. The outage affected mostly flight plans but also traffic management, such as ground stops and ground delays, he said.

An AirTran Airways spokesman said there was no danger to flights in the air during the time the glitch affected departures.

Spokesman Christopher White said flight plans had to be loaded manually because of a malfunction with the automated system.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world's busiest airport, was particularly affected.

AirTran canceled 22 flights and dozens more flights were delayed as of 8 a.m. EST. Delta Air Lines also was affected.

Passengers are being asked to check the status of their flights online before going to airports.

Only minor delays were reported at metropolitan New York City area airports, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Flight plans are collected by the FAA for traffic nationwide at two centers—one in the Salt Lake City area and the other in the Atlanta area, Kathleen Bergen, an FAA spokesperson, said. She did not know which center was affected Thursday.

In August 2008, a software malfunction delayed hundreds of flights around the country.

In that episode, the Northeast was hardest hit by the delays because of a glitch at the Hampton, Ga., facility that processes flight plans for the eastern half of the U.S.

The FAA said at that time the source of the computer software malfunction was a "packet switch" that "failed due to a database mismatch."

Airlines traded down in early morning trading.

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