Congress

Lawmakers call on major airlines to fix IT issues

Airplane. Shutterstock image. Copyright: pzAxe.

Two senior lawmakers have called on major U.S. airline companies to provide details on their IT systems and what safeguards are in place to handle outages and cyberattacks.

"We are concerned with recent reports indicating that airlines' IT systems may be susceptible to faltering because of the way they are designed and have been maintained," Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote to the carriers on Aug. 16. "As the airlines merged over the past decades, they combined different IT systems and technology platforms into complex systems. Further, some airlines use older technology, including software from the 1960s, as the backbone of their operations in 2016."

The concerns arose in the wake of massive outages experienced this summer by Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines, which affected thousands of customers. In addition, a router issue grounded United Airlines flights for almost two hours.

As members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Markey and Blumenthal want to know what caused those outages, what measures are in place to avoid the issues in the future, what cybersecurity safeguards are in place and what types of modernization initiatives are in the works.

The lawmakers also asked whether customers will be compensated for any financial burdens directly linked to carriers' IT failures. And they cited several media sources that linked the failures to legacy systems that have not been updated or maintained.

The companies have until Sept. 16 to respond to the 10 questions in the letter.

About the Author

Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.


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