The Federal Aviation Administration expects to have some figures today on exactly how many flights were affected by a major communications breakdown yesterday.

Hundreds of flights were delayed by what appears to have been a software glitch at a Georgia facility that processes flight plans for the eastern half of the country.

At one point, some three dozen airports reported delays.

Both presidential candidates weighed in. John McCain says the episode highlights the need to “reform and repair a broken system.” Barack Obama says passengers are “sick and tired of delays and cancellations.”

And the nonprofit Travel Industry Association calls it “one more example of America’s deteriorating air travel system.”

Obama Statement

” This incident is yet another reminder of how dependent air travel in this country is on an antiquated air-traffic control system. Airline passengers are sick and tired of delays and cancellations. It’s time we overhauled the system. As president, I will work to deploy the next generation air-traffic control system, and order the FAA to work in the interim to minimize disruptions like the one we experienced today,” said Senator Barack Obama.

McCain Statement

” The news that the Federal Aviation Administration has experienced a communications failure that has delayed flights across the eastern United States is yet another example of Washington failing the American people. It once again highlights the need to reform and repair a broken system. While we still do not know the full extent of today’s problems, we do know that unless action is taken now, the breakdowns of today will become all too common in the future.”

The Coalition for an Airline Passenger Bill of Rights today issued the following statement following news reports that airports across the country were experiencing massive flight delays as a result of an FAA computer glitch that resulted in problems accepting flight plan data:

“This is the second time in less than two years that we have seen a massive computer failure that has grounded thousands of flights across the country. Ensuring that passengers are kept flying safely and efficiently should be one of our nation’s top priorities – how many times do we have to see these type of total system break-downs before our government steps in to do something?” Kate Hanni, executive director, said.

“Congress has made great strides in coming up with an FAA reauthorization bill that would upgrade this antiquated technology and ensure passengers basic rights, but now we need to finish the job before financing expires on September 30, and we have to start all over from scratch. We urge lawmakers to pass this important legislation and ensure that passengers everywhere have access to basic rights and recourses when traveling,” said Hanni.

“This most recent failure of the FAA Computer System has effected every flight and every airport in the country today, obviating the need for Congress to stop ‘Kicking the Can’ down the road and pass the FAA Modernization Bill now before Congress. The FAA reauthorization bill has already been delayed one year and now Congress still has not finished the job through the Senate. Will it take a catastrophic event before Congress shores up our infrastructure in a meaningful way?”