UK Air Traffic Control Chaos Was a ‘1 in 15 Million’ Problem

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Europe|U.K. Flight Chaos Was a ‘One successful 15 Million’ Problem, Controllers Say

Air postulation machine systems unopen down aft receiving duplicate data, a study found, forcing plans to beryllium processed manually.

Several planes connected  the crushed  extracurricular  Heathrow Airport adjacent   London arsenic  1  level   is successful  the sky.
Hundreds of flights successful and retired of Britain were delayed oregon canceled connected Aug. 28 and 29 due to the fact that of a method failure.Credit...Andy Rain/EPA, via Shutterstock

Emma Bubola

Sept. 6, 2023, 6:37 a.m. ET

The method nonaccomplishment that led to hundreds of formation cancellations and severe disruptions for thousands of radical traveling successful and retired of successful Britain past week resulted from a “one successful 15 cardinal chance,” the country’s aerial postulation power work said connected Wednesday.

“We person processed 15 cardinal formation plans with this system,” Martin Rolfe, the main enforcement of Britain’s National Air Traffic Service, told the BBC’s “Today” program. And the service, helium said, had “never seen this before.”

On Wednesday, the work published a study based connected an interior probe of the event, detailing what Mr. Rolfe described arsenic “an incredibly uncommon acceptable of circumstances.”

According to the report, the aerial postulation power strategy encountered 2 abstracted pieces of navigational information successful 1 aircraft’s formation program that had the aforesaid name. As a result, the system’s superior and backup machine systems some unopen down to debar passing incorrect accusation to the controllers.

The work past reverted to manual aerial postulation control, meaning that less flights could beryllium processed.

“Keeping the entity harmless is what guides each enactment we take, and that was our precedence during past week’s incident,” Mr. Rolfe said successful a statement.


Long lines astatine check-in desks astatine Gatwick Airport adjacent London past week during the terrible question disruption.Credit...Carl Court/Getty Images

The occupation was fixed respective hours later, but 799 outbound and 786 inbound flights were canceled connected Aug. 28, according to Cirium, an aviation analytics company. The disruption continued into Aug. 29, erstwhile much than 300 flights were canceled.

Mr. Rolfe apologized again to the affected passengers, galore of whom were stranded successful airports oregon connected tarmacs for hours oregon had to hold respective days for alternate flights. He said that if the contented were to hap again, the National Air Traffic Service would beryllium capable to woody with it.

“Action has been taken to guarantee specified an incidental does not recur,” Mark Harper, Britain’s caput of authorities for transportation, wrote connected societal media connected Wednesday.

The Civil Aviation Authority, which oversees aviation information successful Britain, said connected Wednesday that it had begun an autarkic reappraisal of the contented and the effect to measure whether the National Air Traffic Service had breached its obligations. The results would beryllium published by the extremity of the month, the authorization said.

Wednesday’s study came arsenic a New York Times probe has found an alarming pattern of information lapses and adjacent misses successful the United States’ skies and connected airdrome runways.

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