The failure of the FAA's Notice to Air Mission system on Jan. 11, which forced the agency to implement its first ground halt since 9/11, was most likely caused by one or two contract employees who had access to the system, NBC News has reported, citing unnamed government officials.
The contractors are believed to have edited a file in the system, though it's not clear whether they did so intentionally or in error.
Speaking to NBC, DOT secretary Pete Buttigieg didn't explicitly confirm the report, but he made no effort to question it either.
"We need to make sure that there are enough safeguards built into the system that this level of disruption can't happen because of an individual person's decision, or action or mistake," he said. Buttigieg said he has leaned on the FAA to address the quandary.
He added that steps have been taken to make sure that the sequence of events that happened to disable the system could not happen again.
NBC reported that the contractor or contractors responsible for the failure no longer have access to the system.
The FAA is also upgrading it cybersecurity protocols.
The ground stoppage was over by 9 a.m. Eastern time Wednesday, but it led to more than 2,800 flight cancellations and more than 10,000 delays of flights to, from and within the U.S. that day.