All Sun Country flights were grounded on Thursday morning due to an IT issue with the airline’s crew management software. Passengers found themselves crowded at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, as the carrier was forced to ground flights. A few flights have now begun taking off as Sun Country manually clears services with the FAA.
Sun Country Airlines kicked off Thursday morning with a crisis: its flight crew management software was down. According to the Star Tribune, the entire airline was effectively grounded for hours as it tried to manually ensure that its pilots and flight attendants were eligible to fly.
This resulted in chaos, particularly at Sun Country’s hub in Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (MSP). Thousands of passengers were stuck, unable to check-in for their morning flights. Many took to Twitter to voice their displeasure as the airline struggled to get planes back in the sky.
[Part 1/2] We are aware of a third-party system outage affecting all Sun Country flights, as well as the flights of many other airlines worldwide. Currently, no flights are enroute and we are delaying takeoffs until further notice. (cont…)
— Sun Country Airlines (@SunCountryAir) July 1, 2021
Nearly two hours later, flights began taking off once again as Sun Country completed manual crew clearances. Data from FlightRadar24.com shows that the first flight from MSP departed three hours late at 09:00 AM, with more picking up a few hours later. At the time of writing (12:15 PM CDT), all but one of Sun Country’s morning flights through to 9:30 AM have departed with delays of two to three hours.
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Today’s IT confusion was caused after Sun Country’s crew management software stopped working. The system was built by Dubai-based AIMS International and is used to legally check if pilots and flight attendants can operate flights, depending on their rest schedules, flying hour limits, and other scheduling changes.
With this software not available, airline staffers had to manually check the schedules of all flight crew operating flights on Thursday and gain FAA clearance. This caused the widespread grounding of flights, as the airline struggled to clear dozens of crew members for duty. It’s unclear if the software is working right now as flights have started taking off again.
Passengers impacted by the delays can change their flights on the Sun Country website under the “My Trips” section with no change fee. Notably, AIMS International’s crew software is used by several airlines globally, but not many in the US. This means other carriers may have been affected by the glitch today as well.
As airlines become more reliant on software for their operations, IT issues have become a focal point. Airlines around the world, from British Airways to Jetstar, have been hit by various technical issues in recent years, delaying flights and impacting thousands. This trend is unlikely to reverse either, meaning that more outages are inevitable with carriers globally.
For now, Sun Country and AIMS are working hard to fix issues with their software and return to the schedule. Keep an eye out on the airline’s official Twitter page for further updates regarding the situation.