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FAA says communication breakdown delayed flights

ATLANTA - An electronic communication failure Tuesday at a Federal Aviation Administration facility that processes flight plans for the eastern half of the U.S. caused mass delays around the country. The Northeast was hardest hit.

But by early evening, the FAA said that the situation around the country was returning to normal, with delays remaining in Atlanta and Chicago.

At one point, an FAA Web site that tracks airport status showed delays at some three dozen major airports across the country. The site advised passengers to 'check your departure airport to see if your flight may be affected.'

The FAA said the glitch appeared to have involved a software problem at the Georgia facility.

FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen in Atlanta said there were no safety issues and officials were still able to speak to pilots on planes on the ground and in the air.

She said she did not know exactly how many flights were affected, but she said it was in the hundreds. The FAA did not expect to have total figures until Wednesday. Bergen said that in a 24-hour period the FAA processes more than 300,000 flight plans in the U.S.