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FAA orders all flights grounded for the first time since 9/11

So regarding this no Tamp system it it tells Pilots before they take out uh take off where hazards are you know a forest fire or something like that you got to be worried about uh this is the first time in history this no Tam systems has ever failed it is also the first time since 9 11 that all American Airlines have been grounded according to.

ABC News uh apparently you know and there’s been some speculation about uh a hack or something like that they are reporting that it was a software issue that developed last night and then led to a cascading series of I.T failures and that is what has gotten us to where we are right now all right joining us now by phone is Michael Santoro he’s a.

Pilot he’s also the vice president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association good morning to you Michael good morning good morning what was your thought when you heard the news all flights grounded until at least nine uh well I kind of got word of this happening uh yesterday afternoon that was a small glitch going on.

Um and uh evidently overnight so that it became a much bigger one um I’m not surprised the grounding of aircraft this morning uh it’s just uh you know safety’s number one in aviation and out of abundant precautions I’m not surprised they grounded off like the notems are something required to read before every flight.

It gives us information about the arrival airports you know if there’s cranes in the area if a certain approach system is out of service a lighting system’s out of surface stuff like that um so really pretty important for us to know when we get close to sometimes it does affect performance numbers so I’m not surprised they can’t say uh have.

Grounded us so Mike what’s going on behind the scenes the pilots sit there they’re all waiting thinking themselves who is going to be instructing you who are best to go for example if they decide to scrub a flight but they want to use a pilot to keep somebody in place to send you another direction is there who is coordinating all the all the.

Audibles that are being called right now so at Southwest uh our our network operations control center is controlling all that um so they’re discussing you know go look at time the big issue we have right now is um when will Pilots time out so we’re good any from 10 10 to 14 hours.

Depending on how many legs we have in other words flights in a day and how many um um what time we started this morning so depending on that we’ll determine um how long we can go for the day and that uh you know that 10 hours includes all the flying time so if you have a five hour flight from let’s say DC to La we can.

Only hold out for you know four four and a half hours or so before we’re time out so that’s going to start being a concern as we’re starting on the East Coast early in the morning and uh and and so the building controlling that at the center well that’s interesting so Michael the meter doesn’t start running because there are pilots have been at.

The airport for four hours already uh the the meter the clock on the 10 hours doesn’t start until the Pilot gets in the cockpit and takes off no it starts uh 30 minutes prior to departure is our report time so as soon as we’re required to report to the airport is where technically our on duty uh so and that’s a fatigue issue is why.

They have the duty limits for it sure so as soon as we show up uh and report for duty is when our clock starts right one other question I you know you’re at Southwest you’re a pilot at Southwest famously you guys have had uh during the holidays had some major scheduling or computer problems is this going to impact you adversely uh in a.

Different way than other airlines uh to be determined I hope not the uh the the knock is uh on top of this uh and fortunately I’m not fortunate but with all aircraft stopped uh we won’t have the same problem uh shouldn’t have the same problem having Crews displaced and not knowing where they’re at uh with our scheduling.

Software so we should be okay um and preemptively um taking care of these things Michael a lot of people have flights obviously today but also tomorrow does this usually trickle into the next day too likely uh if we have once you see the cancellations it’ll start quickly because rebooking will be the issue.

About how many seats are open on those planes going to different places uh so uh you know you can only read book so many people in a day uh to how many empty seats there are so I’m certain they’ll be there’s definitely different trickles all right can you give us an idea are you guys still short Pilots are you.

Still short flight attendants is the is the workforce an issue still so Southwest has been doing a lot to hiring um and uh we currently have enough Pilots to do the schedule we have on the books but we’d like to fly more so they’re hiring as many as they can same with lights and it’s uh but we’re restricted our growth is.

Restricted um by staff right Michael uh I’m sure if you’re talking to us on the phone uh on television I’m sure you’ve been talking to some of your colleagues in the airline industry this morning what what are your friends saying who are Professionals in the business about what is happening right now oh yeah for us it’s just it’s.

Frustrating you know airplanes have uh redundant systems there’s at least two of everything right so I’m not sure how the notem system works uh just because it never fail doesn’t mean it wouldn’t fail so um hopefully the FAA has uh they can notice that we they need redundant systems as well you know and that’s such a good point because the federal.

Government famously has now spent trillions of dollars upgrading infrastructure all we hear about is how the government’s upgrading the infrastructure and then this one computer system that nobody’s ever heard of the the no Tam system it goes down we don’t know exactly why probably a software thing but it doesn’t appear.

That there’s any backup or if the backup if there is a backup the backup screwed up yeah I I to be clear I don’t really know exactly how they operate that system there and if they do have backups but clearly it’s not working if they had one so we need to figure that out Michael do you have to have no Tams the.

System in order to fly the plane because we talked to someone earlier who said it’s pages and pages of information and sometimes you don’t have time or Pilots don’t really pay attention to that information so do you have to have the no tams in order to fly it is required to have on board before we take off.

Um we can get it you know verbally but of course you know thousands of slices a day there’s no way everybody can get them verbally make those phone calls the airports talk to the towers to find out hey what’s wrong with your airport today or this hour so it changes continuously there are a lot of them we tend to prioritize the most important ones that.

We’re you know where we’re going and which approaches we’re doing so we can we can drill down pretty quick on which ones are important or not but we do still need to have them sure and Michael uh in control room can we put up the the FlightAware thing that shows the number of airplanes that are currently in the air and need to land it does show you.

The can we go to The Graphic of the 48 connected States and there we go right there as we look at the plane still in the air Michael there are a lot of planes still up there but a lot of most of them are probably FedEx flights or UPS cargo flights you share of the airspace with a lot of cargo Movers yes we do any airplane in the air you.

Know because there’s not going to be too many of them they can get the current items no problem verbally so no one should be concerned about that so they they say the the system’s beginning to come back could you get confirmation on that I do not have any confirmation on that right now but uh you know I’ll be as.

Soon as we uh and this conversation I’ll probably be finding out some information Michael how does this affect our country financially I mean think about all the people missing business meetings or packages trying to get here and there yeah it’s going to be a huge uh well depending on how long it’s last and how my cancellations come out of it it’s.

Going to be a huge impact to everybody especially the airlines you know uh Southwest just took nearly a billion dollar hit last weekend so um this is going to help our bottom line or any airlines bottom line when it’s already pretty tight margins to begin with sure and and as a pilot uh Michael I’m sure as the people are are coming on.

Your airplane over the last week or 10 days after the problems at Southwest I’m sure a lot of them have poked their heads in the cap in the cockpit and said hey are we going to be taking off on time with you guys and stuff like that yeah there’s definitely not an opportune uh glitch for for our Airline uh just you know we have made it clear to.

Everybody and trying to tell all our passengers that this is not a Southwest problem uh this is an FAA problem so um hopefully everybody understands it Michael how do they normally respond to that I’m sure the flight attendants come up and talk to y’all and say oh my gosh we have someone who’s really upset or whatever whatever the story might be but.

How do people usually react on the planes when they have to be somewhere and they’re stuck yeah I think you know everybody gets frustrated a little bit um but when it’s out of our control they’re usually generally pretty nice they’re the flight crew and understand that you know it’s out of our hands and we’re doing.

Everything we can to get them to their destination yeah we know you guys have been under uh scrutiny but this is something that’s not uh not your fault and we just hope the communication is good because if uh the last thing we heard is everything should go back in 45 minutes so if that’s being relayed then people are.

Making adjustments checking their app and finding out what’s canceled what’s not now for the most part I know you’re not coordinating this but if people have flights earlier than 9 A.M but they more likely to get first priority or the first likely to be canceled the well that’s a great question and the answer is it depends which is not a good.

Good for all the people out there but it really depends on how long the flight was what time that pilot stirred up um how the you know how the crew timing looks and it’s still it’s fairly variable and if I was to ask you something that would allow you guys to have a little bit more freedom wouldn’t it be great to give you a little bit.

More flexibility when it comes to flight attendants because if you don’t have the exact amount I mean sometimes if the passengers agree well down one they want to fly but you don’t have enough you can’t do you ever wish for that type of flexibility so you know the flight tends to pay and play an integral part of our safety uh.

Aspect of the airline and the number of fly tenants are dictated by how many taxes are on board so every 50 passenger will need at least one flight attendant uh and uh you know they’re not there just to serve drinks uh and safety briefs they’re really there for if something bad happens and we have to do some sort of emergency landing they will.

Be there to help you guys out of the airplane in in the fastest possible manner so um I would not be in favor of leaving without the required number of flight attendants just for that reason they’re going to help you off the plane if something goes Haywire well I guess Michael the good news is.

Um if you operate a bar at one of the uh big airports today you’re probably going to have a pretty good very busy day yeah it’s been a busy day in the airport for sure go to the airport with your own Bloody Mary mix uh make it easy Michael thank you for all you do you’re getting people home for Christmas and weddings and then medical treatment so.

God bless you thanks for what you do I know you are away from your family a lot don’t blame Southwest yeah I’m Steve Ducey I’m Brian Kilmeade and I’m aimsley Earhart and click here to subscribe to the Fox News YouTube page to catch our hottest interviews and most compelling analysis.

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