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Chaos above London as Airspace ‘Restricted’ Due to Computer Failure

Chaos above London as Airspace ‘Restricted’ Due to Computer Failure

Airspace above London was temporarily closed and then severely restricted Friday afternoon following a major computer failure in an air traffic control centre in southern England.

Britain’s National Air Traffic Service (NATS) said a failure at its centre in Swanwick caused it to restrict access to airspace in southern England, saying in a statement: “NATS can confirm that a technical problem has been reported at Swanwick air traffic control centre.

“UK airspace has not been closed, but airspace capacity has been restricted in order to manage the situation. We apologise for any delays and our incident response team has been mobilised.”

Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest in the world, was forced to suspend all departures for an hour before allowing a small number of planes to leave.

At one point, all departures were suspended at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stanstead and London City airports.

The air traffic control service at Swanwick, which controls flights over most of southern England, has suffered a number of computer glitches since NATS moved there a decade ago. On 7 December last year thousands of passengers were stranded when a similar fault occurred at the centre.

This story is developing

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