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American Airlines Identifies iPad App Glitch That Caused Flight Delays

The culprit? An app update that created conflicting versions of the map for Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

American Airlines

American Airlines has identified the problem that caused 70 flights to be delayed since Tuesday night: A seemingly benign update to an airport map.

The new version of the runway map for Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport caused problems for pilots who had stored a previous copy of the map on an Apple iPad app used in the cockpit, according to an American Airlines spokesperson.

Pilots who attempted to access the Reagan airport map Tuesday night encountered a glitch when two versions of the same map were in conflict, the spokesperson said. American Airlines has alerted pilots to the problem and to a work-around to avoid future delays until the next update.

“That’s why it was not system-wide or a fleet-type problem,” said American Airlines spokesman Casey Norton. “It’s when the pilot accessed a particular map.”

In 2013, American Airlines became the first major commercial airline to use tablets in all cockpits. This electronic flight bag took the place of the bulky, 35-pound stacks of paper reference materials and manuals that pilots wheeled around airports and into cockpits.

Pilots use an FAA app developed by Jeppesen that contains terminal maps and other information used in flight planning. A spokesman for the company, which is a unit of Boeing Digital Aviation, said the data would be updated on May 8.

 An American Airlines pilot consults an Apple iPad in the cockpit.
An American Airlines pilot consults an Apple iPad in the cockpit.
American Airlines

American Airlines said its pilots have been alerted to push an updated version of Reagan National’s map through another app, print a hard copy or delete and re-install the Jeppesen app. The problem was with the third-party software, not with Apple’s hardware.

Norton said the airline has not encountered any further delays related to this software glitch over the last several hours.

“We operate 7,000 flights per day,” said Norton “This is not anywhere close to a thunder storm.”

This article originally appeared on

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