NATS restricts UK flights as safety measure after software glitch

A software systems failure has caused the national air traffic control service (NATS) to restrict flights across south England

A software systems failure has caused the national air traffic control service (NATS) to restrict flights across south England.

The UK air traffic control restrictions were put in place this morning (Tuesday 9 July 2013) after a “conflict-alert system failure”.

NATS said: “NATS has identified and corrected the technical problem that has been affecting air traffic control systems in the south of England. Operations are now returning to normal and we are working with the airports, airlines and Eurocontrol to clear the backlog of flights to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum.”

Passengers with outbound flights could expect delays of 20 minutes, NATS said.

Technical problems occurred at Swanwick control centre. At the time, NATS said that – while this had not resulted in the closure of UK airspace or the suspension of all flights in or out the UK – it had taken steps to restrict the number of aircraft flying across the south of England as a safety measure.

While this particular incident has been resolved relatively quickly, compared to the catastrophic systems meltdown at NatWest in June 2012, the failure highlights the vulnerability of safety-critical software.

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