What is NOTAM? Here’s Why the FAA Grounded Flights

The disruption on Wednesday was caused by an outage to a system that the Federal Aviation Administration uses to send real-time safety alerts to pilots.

Those NOTAM alerts — short for Notice to Air Mission — are crucial to planning flights and are used to share information about hazards in the air or on the ground, such as closed runways, airspace restrictions and navigational signal disruptions.

NOTAMs, which until recently stood for the anachronistically gendered Notice to Airmen, typically include technical language that can be difficult to parse for anyone without experience reading them. They were created in 1947 and modeled after similar messages used to alert ship captains to hazards at sea.

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