Software glitch grounds Sonoma County flights

  • 3/4/2011: A7:
    PC: The proposed $84 million dollar renovation of the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport includes longer runways, a new control tower and new terminal.

A glitch in a weather monitoring system at Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport on Wednesday forced the cancellation of three Alaska Airlines flights and disrupted travel plans for more than 300 passengers looking to get an early jump on holiday travels.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had scheduled to do maintenance on the airport's weather station Wednesday morning, but ended up knocking the system offline for more than five hours, airport manager Jon Stout said. Airlines rely on weather data to make takeoff and landing calculations, he said, and cannot fly without the information.

Craig Hammond, of Santa Rosa, said he was on his way to Lewiston, Idaho, with his family but had to scrap his plans when the 10:40 a.m. flight from Sonoma County to Seattle was canceled.

"We had to cancel our entire vacation," said Hammond, who had closed his auto repair shop through the weekend in anticipation of his trip. "What I don't understand is why they decided to do this before a holiday weekend."

Halley Knigge, a spokesperson for Alaska Airlines, said that 381 passengers were affected on morning flights to Seattle, Los Angeles and Portland.

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