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Pentagon: U-2 nearby when computer failed, delaying commercial flights

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon confirmed Monday that a U-2 spy plane was on a regular training mission over the West Coast last week when a software glitch of unknown origin caused a shutdown of computer systems that delayed hundreds of flights.

“I can tell you there was a U-2 operating in the area in accordance with all FAA regulations,” said Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren. “The U2 filed all the proper flight plan paperwork and was conducting its operation in accordance with those filings.”

Warren said the Federal Aviation Administration investigated and resolved the matter. The Pentagon is not planning an investigation and is not planning to change U-2 flight operations, he said.

Sources over the weekend told NBC News that the plane’s route caused computers to overload Wednesday at the Los Angeles Air Route Traffic Control Center, which handles landings and departures at major airports in the Los Angeles area, San Diego, Las Vegas and elsewhere.

That system, which displays data to air traffic controllers, as well as a backup system failed, and the FAA was forced to stop accepting flights into airspace managed by the center, NBC reported.

The FAA quickly implemented a fix, but travel plans for thousands of travelers were disrupted in the meantime.

The U-2 is a high-flying spy plane that first took to the skies in the 1950s. The Pentagon has proposed eliminating the fleet in favor of unmanned surveillance aircraft in the 2015 defense budget to save money.

carroll.chris@stripes.com
Twitter: @ChrisCarroll_

 

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