By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives plans to pass bipartisan legislation next week to create a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) task force to improve a pilot email database that has failed last week, disrupting 11,000 flights.

The outage of the Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) database caused the nationwide ground halt to US passenger traffic on January 11, the first since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The NOTAM system provides pilots, flight crews and other users of US airspace with critical safety notices.

The legislation would require an FAA task force to consider enhancements, including updates “to ensure the stability, resiliency and cybersecurity of the NOTAM computer system,” said Rep. Pete Stauber, a Republican sponsor of the law Project.

Stauber said in a statement that the failure shows “the urgent need for updates and improvements…to keep air traffic safe in our skies.”

On Thursday, the FAA’s initial review found that contract personnel “unintentionally deleted files” were disrupting the NOTAM system, adding that the issue occurred while personnel were working “to correct synchronization between the main database in direct and a backup database”. The FAA said it “found no evidence of a cyber attack or malicious intent.”

Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen held a virtual briefing for congressional staff on Friday, but did not identify the contractor involved in the failure. The FAA plans next week to hold a briefing for House lawmakers.

There are two separate databases, including a 30-year-old system known as the US NOTAM system” based in Oklahoma City, which is being phased out in favor of the new “federal NOTAM system” based in Atlantic City, the authorities said. sources.

Last week, the corruption occurred in the US NOTAM system, which then infiltrated the Federal NOTAM database. The FAA has since installed protective measures, including a staggered update process to isolate issues before they affect the other database. The FAA requires two people to be present during routine maintenance, the sources added.

The FAA said Thursday it had taken steps to make the pilot messaging system “more resilient.” The FAA eventually plans to move the NOTAM messaging system to a virtual platform in the cloud, sources said.

Last week, a group of more than 120 US lawmakers told the FAA the computer outage was “completely unacceptable” and asked the agency to explain how it would prevent future incidents.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and David Gregorio)

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