Networks

Flights Delayed As Computer Outage Leaves United Airlines Grounded

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

Travellers complain as a second IT issue in four months leaves United Airline flights grounded for two hours

Thousands of travellers were facing delays last night after United Airlines was forced to ground all of its domestic flights due to a computer outage.

International flights weren’t affected, but those flying domestically were met with massive delays after flights were grounded for two hours as one of the US’s biggest airlines attempted to resolve the IT issue.

The outage comes after United flights faced widespread disruption back in October as several dozen flights around the world were delayed due to a “systems issue”.

United Airlines

IT outage

At 1:06am UK time, United tweeted: “A ground stop is in place for domestic flights due to an IT issue. We’re working on a resolution. We apologize for the inconvenience.”

This was followed by a Tweet an hour later saying the airline was “working to get flights on their way,” before a final post at 3:27am UK time said: “Additional delays are expected as we work to get flights out this evening. A travel waiver is in place.”

Speaking to NBC News, US officials said that the problem was down to the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) experiencing low bandwidth issues, although United didn’t offer any further information and just described it as “an IT issue.”

The ACARS is used to transmit information, such as weight and balance, that pilots need in order to calculate takeoff speeds. The issue didn’t affect planes that were already in the air but, without being able to safely take off, all plans yet to depart were stuck on the runway.

Speaking to Silicon, United Airlines said: “Last night, at 5:30 p.m. CT, we issued a ground stop for all domestic mainline flights due to an IT issue. As of 8 p.m. CT the issue was resolved and flights began resuming. Today we are expecting minimal impact to our operation due to this issue.

“We have issued a system-wide waiver to allow customers to change their flights, and we apologise for the inconvenience this has caused.”

This isn’t the only example of an airline being grounded because of a computer issue. British Airways was faced with major delays in September after a system crash meant it had to carry out a manual check-in process and two dozen Delta flights were delayed in February after a fault with its ground operation computer systems.

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