UK air traffic control meltdown causes chaos at airports

Daily news Technology

A “network-wide” computer failure is being blamed for the meltdown of the UK’s air traffic control causing chaos at airports with hundreds of thousands of passengers left stranded.

Thousands of flights have been cancelled or delayed on one of the busiest days of the year for travel by a technical glitch across the air traffic control network that stopped aircraft landing and taking off.

Thousands of passengers have been stuck on grounded planes for several hours. While some flights did manage to take-off and land, most travellers returning or departing from UK airports suffered suspended flights. More than 1,200 were cancelled completely as long delays hit others. The National Air Traffic Service (Nats) said the technical issue was “remedied” on Bank Monday afternoon but the knock on effect is resulting in more misery for ever more passengers.

The Guardian reports the disruption is likely to be felt for “several days,” as plane and crews are out of position to fulfil flights.

SkyNews reports that “Britons already on planes” have been warned to expect 12 hour delays to their flights. Passengers expecting to fly from Heathrow on Tuesday have been told to contact their airline to confirm the flight before travelling to the airport. Heathrow said “schedules remain significantly disrupted”.

Luton airport issued the same advice as British Airways told customers to confirm their flight before going to airports.

However, there is better news for travellers from Gatwick and Stansted airports which both expect to operate a normal schedule tomorrow (August 29).

The Independent reports the outage at air traffic control has caused the “worst single day’s disruption to UK flying since the Icelandic volcano in 2010. The newspaper states an “estimated 200,000” people will wake up on Tuesday in a place “where they did not intend to be.”

They may be entitled to some compensation for food and accommodation fro their airlines but they will not receive statutory compensation because the air traffic control blackout is categorised as an “extraordinary circumstance”.

Nats apologised for the problems caused in a statement saying they had “identified and remedied the technical issue affecting our flight planning system this morning.

Our engineers will be carefully monitoring the system’s performance as we return to normal operations.

The flight planning issue affected the system’s ability to automatically process flight plans, meaning that flight plans had to be processed manually which cannot be done at the same volume, hence the requirement for traffic flow restrictions.”

Home secretary Suella Braverman said: “I am very cognisant that this will disrupt people’s travel plans – those who are waiting to arrive in the UK, those waiting to depart, and I do sympathise with any disruption they may be experiencing.”

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