The Federal Aviation Administration has finally put out an official statement regarding a still very mysterious ground stop order that it issued to all aircraft in the western U.S. and Hawaii yesterday around 2:30 PM PST. While the incident is now confirmed, there are still a significant number of unanswered questions, including the most important one: what triggered this decision in the first place? You can get up to speed first on what The War Zone had been able to determine in our initial reporting here
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued their statement just before 9:40 AM PST this afternoon, over 20 hours after the order was sent. The War Zone had already reached out to the FAA with a number of basic questions regarding the event, but we have still not received a direct response.
FAA’s full statement, so far, regarding this incident, is as follows:
As a matter of precaution, the FAA temporarily paused departures at some airports along the West Coast on Monday night. Full operations resumed in less than 15 minutes. The FAA regularly takes precautionary measures. We are reviewing the process around this ground stop as we do after all such events.
This statement is immediately curious for a number of reasons. For one, publicly available recordings of air traffic controllers on the ground talking with pilots at the time show that this pause was not limited to the West Coast of the continental United States. For instance, pilots in Honolulu, Hawaii were given similar instructions.
One source, a pilot flying into Yuma, Arizona, which lies around 150 miles inland from the West Coast, told The War Zone that the alert had been described to them as “national ground stop.” This also highlights that we know that the stop order did not only impact departures. Other air traffic control recordings make clear that even some aircraft were ordered to land as soon as possible, as well.
The FAA statement makes no mention of what prompted it to take this “precaution,” either. Air traffic controllers at Burbank in California can be heard in one recording referencing an unspecified “national security threat.”