Britain to Hold Inquiry into Last Week’s Flight Chaos

Britain to Hold Inquiry into Last Week’s Flight Chaos

Britain is to hold an independent inquiry into a computer failure at its air traffic control hub which caused chaos for travellers last week, aviation officials said Monday.

The glitch delayed departures, diverted arrivals and led to the cancellations of dozens of flights on Friday, with the chaos spilling into Saturday.

Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced the inquiry, saying it would look at the root cause, the response and whether lessons had been learned following a similar incident last December.

There are growing questions about the age and efficiency of the software used by Britain’s main air traffic controller NATS at its headquarters in Swanwick, southern England. Media reports indicate that some of it dates back to the 1960s.

Speaking to the BBC, Business Secretary Vince Cable accused NATS of “skimping” on investment and running “ancient computer systems which then crash.”

But NATS chief executive Richard Deakin said it was set to invest £575 million (727 million euros, $903 million) over the next five years on updating its systems.

He added: “The system we had a problem with… has code written in the early ’90s.”

Deakin also said he did not think that Friday’s problems were down to a lack of funding.


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