Nats resorts to fail-safe manual process after technical hitch


Tomasz Zajda –

Cliff Saran


Published: 29 Aug 2023 14: 15

Nats, the UK’s nationwide air traffic control service system, experienced a flight preparation problem which impacted the system’s capability to immediately process flight strategies. This suggested that flight strategies needed to be processed by hand.

Although the technical concern impacting Nats’ flight preparation system were determined and treated within a couple of hours, the hold-up triggered significant travel disturbance throughout airline companies. The issues were acknowledged at 12: 10 the other day (28 August) and were dealt with by 15: 15.

Juliet Kennedy, operations director at Nats, stated: “The problem we had actually previously indicated our automatic system which supplies controllers with information of every airplane and its path wasn’t working. Rather, to handle security, we needed to restrict the variety of flights we might handle. Our groups strove to deal with the issue and I’m happy to state it was repaired previously this afternoon. It will take some time to return to typical.”

The ripple effect of the technical problem has actually triggered significant interruption to airline companies and holidaymakers, much of whom was because of fly back to the UK after the August bank vacation weekend.

On its site, bachelor’s degree stated: “While NATS has actually now solved the concern, it has actually produced substantial and inevitable hold-ups and cancellations. If you are because of fly with us on Tuesday 29 August, please do not take a trip to the airport without inspecting the status of your flight, as it might be postponed or no longer be running.”

Speaking on the BBC Today program, Doug Maclean, handling director of DKM Aviation Partners, who worked for 39 years in Air Traffic Control functional, stated that it is really unusual for the system to stop working, although it is really complicated.

” They are extremely well checked prior to any modifications are made it it,” he stated. When inquired about the catastrophe healing strategy, Maclean stated that there are backup systems and the air traffic system was never ever offline throughout the technical failure, including: “The airspace never ever closed. There was traffic moving all the time.”

According to Maclean, what the operations group did throughout the issue was “really a reasonable preventative measure”. He stated that they understood there were problems with information streaming into the system and in between air traffic control service centres as rapidly as it usually would which they took the choice to go into the information by hand.

” It’s in fact a statement to how great the systems are that we can run big volumes of traffic through the system every day and not experience hold-ups,” he stated, including that this represents a huge modification from 10 to 15 years ago where, according to Maclean, the system was far less robust.

For circumstances, on 17 December 2014, Richard Deakin, who was then CEO of Nats, offered proof to a parliamentary committee checking out a failure of the system that happened on December 14, which led to around 150 flight hold-ups and an additional 20 flights diverted far from UK airspace. Comparable to the declarations from Nats concerning the most recent technical problem, at the time, Deakin stated that air traffic controllers turned to manual intervention.

” Effectively, the system stopped working in an abject mode where the controllers did not have all of the tools offered to them that they would generally have, which indicated that we needed to restrict the circulation through the airspace,” he stated.

The 2014 failure was because of a bug in tradition code established in the 1990 s. While it is prematurely to understand with certainty the source of this newest technical problem Nats has actually experienced, it is not likely that it was triggered by a cyber attack on the system, although this has yet to be eliminated.

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