A recent report claims that U-2 spy plane passing through airspace monitored by the L.A. Air Route Traffic Control Center in Palmdale, California caused a glitch that ultimately overloaded and fried computer systems. The U-2 is a spy plane that was used by the U.S. some 50 years back for high-altitude reconnaissance missions over Russia during the Cold War.
The control center in Palmdale is responsible for handling landings and departures at major airports in the region, including but not limited to San Diego, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Computer systems at the control center are tasked with keeping commercial airliners and other aircraft from colliding into each other. Even though the U-2 was flying well above any commercial airliner’s ceiling at 60,000 feet the computers were trying to keep it from colliding into planes that were actually thousands of miles beneath it.
Apparently the U-2’s route and altitude overloaded a system that generates display data for air-traffic controllers, called ERAM. Backup systems are said to have failed as well. Due to the glitch the FAA could not accept air-traffic into the airspace controlled by the L.A. Center. It had to issue a nationwide ground stop that lasted for about an hour.
While confirming to NBC News that it was investigating a flight-plan “processing issue,” the FAA didn’t confirm what exactly caused this glitch and if it most certainly was due to the U-2 spy plane flying through the airspace.
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