The disruption to airline passengers continued on Tuesday due to the cascading effects of an air traffic control (ATC) fault. Transport Secretary Mark Harper described it as the most significant incident of its kind in nearly a decade and announced plans for an independent review.
The issue began on Monday when over a quarter of flights at UK airports had to be canceled due to a “technical issue” affecting ATC provider National Air Traffic Services (Nats). Nats couldn’t automatically process flight plans, leading to manual checks and flight restrictions.
Although Nats reported the issue as resolved on Monday afternoon, the disruption continued into Tuesday as many flights and crews were still out of position. Data analysis revealed that at least 281 flights, including arrivals and departures, were canceled at the UK’s six busiest airports on Tuesday.
The disruption led to extensive delays for many other flights. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak acknowledged the frustration of affected passengers, stating that the issue was rare but the disruption would persist for a while longer.
Transport Secretary Mark Harper emphasized that the incident was a technical fault and not a cybersecurity incident. He announced an independent review, and the Civil Aviation Authority will produce a report in the coming days to assess lessons learned and reduce the impact of similar incidents in the future.
This incident follows a significant ATC systems failure in December 2014, which also caused widespread disruption at airports. The aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, is closely monitoring Nats and will receive an incident report once their investigation is complete.
The disruption affected a quarter of a million people on Monday, including British athletes stranded in Budapest after the World Championships. Passengers both in the UK and abroad expressed frustration and uncertainty about their travel plans.
Aviation consultant John Strickland explained that providing ATC for flights is complex, with robust systems meant to be reliable but vulnerabilities exist when relying on IT systems.
Airlines advised passengers to check their flight status before heading to the airport as flight times may have changed due to the ongoing disruption.Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn