Normal service resumes after NATS glitch

UK air traffic control NATS took the best part of a day to return to normal operations after the ground communications system in its Swanwick area control operations room failed on Saturday.

“The technical and operational contingency measures we had in place all day have enabled us to deliver more than 80 per cent of our normal operation,” NATS said, adding that the reduction in capacity had had a disproportionate effect on southern England because of its extremely complex and busy airspace.

“To be clear, this is a very complex and sophisticated system with more than a million lines of software,” it said. “This is not simply internal telephones, it is the system that controllers use to speak to other ATC agencies both in the UK and Europe and is the biggest system of its kind in Europe.”

“This has been a major challenge for our engineering team and for the manufacturer, who has worked closely with us to ensure this complex problem was resolved as quickly as possible while maintaining a safe service.”

NATS tweeted “As of 19.30 we had handled 3,250 flights today – around 90 per cent of the traffic handled last Saturday (3,613 flights)”

As soon as it was informed about the technical failure, the European Network Manager Eurocontrol, through its operations centre, started coordinating with NATS and with its own Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre, in addition to French and the Dutch air traffic control to mitigate the severe network impact of the technical failure.

Eurocontrol said around 130,000 minutes of delay occurred across the network with approximately 1,300 flights (almost 8 per cent of the European traffic today) being severely delayed.

NATS said it sincerely regretted inconvenience to its airline customers and their passengers.

Read More:
NATS technical failure impact ‘critical’
NATS to fix voice comms glitch by 6.30pm?

Posted in CAAs/ANSPs, News

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