NATS System Failure Delays London Flights


Air traffic control staff at London airports forced to input flight plans manually following system breakdown

Flights in and out of London’s airports were delayed by up to an hour following a National Air Traffic Control (NATS) system failure.

The failure, which affected Heathrow, Gatwick, Southampton, Luton and Stansted airports, involved flight planning software that uploads flight plans to controllers’ displays before each plane arrives or leaves. However, on Monday night the software failed following routine maintenance, according to NATS.

Manual input

The problem meant that staff needed to manually input flight plans until the system returned to action at around 08:30 BST on Tuesday morning, NATS said. It was not yet clear whether the system failure is linked to Monday night’s maintenance, according to NATS.

Some restrictions have been applied to flights at London airports but passengers are being told to check in as normal, according to Heathrow Airport.

NATS is currently trialling a cloud-based desktop system based on Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp and AppSense user virtualisation tools, but said that wasn’t involved in the failure as it doesn’t involve air traffic control operators.

Cloud infrastructure

The organisation is working with Amor Group to implement the multi-million pound project, which will see all desktop IT services for around 6,000 staff transferred to cloud-based infrastructure.

The project is expected to reduce costs by £9 million over the next four years and shrink NATS’ carbon footprint. NATS claims it is the largest implementation of cloud infrastructure in the transport sector to date.

The service is currently being tested with more than 300 users and will be rolled out to staff in the first half of 2012.

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