- Title: BRITAIN-AIRLINES/CLOSURE Computer fault identified as UK flight chaos abates
- Date: 13th December 2014
- Summary: CITY AIRPORT, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (DECEMBER 12, 2014) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PLANES ON TARMAC AT CITY AIRPORT PLANE TAKING OFF
- Embargoed: 28th December 2014 12:00
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVAAOKZ12YOV9KQBOS325ILGHZO8
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- Story Text: A system failure affecting air traffic control workstations was to blame for disruption to thousands of passengers coming in and out of Britain's biggest airports, officials said, as services returned to normal on Saturday (December 13).
A small number of flights remain delayed or cancelled at London's Heathrow Airport, which calls itself the world's busiest international airport, according to its website.
Air traffic officials said Friday's (December 12) system failure occurred during a switchover of air controllers' workstations, which are put into operation or placed on standby as demand varies.
National Air Traffic Services (NATS) Chief Executive, Roger Deakin, explained that the error came from a small section of computer code, and promised that it would not happen again.
"The systems down at Swanwick [location of air traffic control centre] are very complex; we have about 50 different systems, we have around 4 million lines of code, and this was one error in one of the 4 million lines of code. So that's now been corrected, we know what the problem was, that's not going to occur again and we're now back up and running in a fully operational mode," he said.
British Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin had on Friday demanded a full explanation for the glitch that forced authorities to limit access to British airspace at one of the busiest times of year.
He will appear before lawmakers on Monday (December 15) as a parliamentary committee begins an investigation into the disruption.
Deakin was keen to reassure the public that NATS had managed the situation to prevent any danger.
"Well, the staff are always totally in control of the situation, and I can absolutely assure all your viewers that there was never any safety issue. Safety is very much the number one priority in NATS, and everything that we do is very much geared towards keeping everything safe," he said.
The disruption was the second such incident in just over a year to hit NATS's hub at Swanwick in southern England, one of two main centres.
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