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FAA: U-2 did not cause LAX control center computers to crash

May. 6, 2014 - 06:08PM   |  
An Air Force U-2 flies a training mission.
An Air Force U-2 flies a training mission. (Master Sgt. Rose Reynolds/Air Force)
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The Federal Aviation Administration has determined a U-2 spy plane did not cause computers at Los Angles International Airport’s control center to crash.

Earlier media reports indicated that the U-2 may have caused the computers to fail while they were tracking the aircraft, but the FAA determined the problem stemmed from the computers, not the plane.

“On April 30, 2014, an FAA air traffic system that processes flight plan information experienced problems while processing a flight plan filed for a U-2 aircraft that operates at very high altitudes under visual flight rules,” a statement released Tuesday says. “The computer system interpreted the flight as a more typical low altitude operation, and began processing it for a route below 10,000 feet. The extensive number of routings that would have been required to de-conflict the aircraft with lower-altitude flights used a large amount of available memory and interrupted the computer's other flight-processing functions.”

The FAA fixed the problem within an hour and then enabled its facilities to increase the amount of flight- processing memory available to make sure the issue does not happen again, the statement says.

NBC first reported that the U-2’s altitude overloaded the control center’s computers, causing 50 flights to be canceled, 428 to be delayed and 27 flights to divert elsewhere. There were delays out of other airports as well, NBC reported.

The website The Blaze first reported on Monday that an Air Force spokeswoman had said the plane did not cause the control center’s computers to fail.

Air Force spokesman Maj. Mary Danner-Jones told Military Times on Tuesday that the U-2 did not emit any electronic signals that scrambled the control center’s computers.

The U-2 from Beale Air Force Base, California, was flying a “routine training mission” through the Los Angeles air control space when the incident occurred, according to Air Combat Command.

“The U-2 was flying the altitude and heading of a flight plan that had been filed with the Federal Aviation Administration in accordance with normal procedures,” the command said in a statement on Monday.

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