UK airspace hit by technical fault
Air passengers have been warned to expect “significant delays” as a UK air traffic control failure means flight plans are having to be input manually by controllers.
The National Air Traffic Services (NATS), the country’s leading provider of air traffic control services, said it has applied traffic flow restrictions on Monday to maintain safety following a technical issue.
It added in an update on Monday that controllers are having to input flight plans manually due to a fault with its systems.
The PA news agency understands passengers boarding flights both to and from the UK have been told of the fault.
NATS apologised for the disruption, which is causing significant delays at UK airports.
In a statement, NATS said: “This morning’s technical issue is affecting our ability to automatically process flight plans.
“Until our engineers have resolved this, flight plans are being input manually which means we cannot process them at the same volume, hence we have applied traffic flow restrictions.
“Our technical experts are looking at all possible solutions to rectify this as quickly as possible.
“Our priority is ensuring every flight in the UK remains safe and doing everything we can to minimise the impact.
“Please contact your airline for information on how this may affect your flight. We are sincerely sorry for the disruption this is causing.”
An earlier statement from NATS said: “We are currently experiencing a technical issue and have applied traffic flow restrictions to maintain safety.
“Engineers are working to find and fix the fault. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.”
A Heathrow spokesman said: “As a result of national airspace issues there is disruption to flights across the UK. Passengers are advised to check with their airline for the latest information.
“We are working closely with NATS and other airport partners to minimise the impact this has on passengers.”
Meanwhile, airline Loganair warned customers they may experience delays as a “network-wide failure” affected air-traffic control systems on Monday morning.
The Glasgow-based airline tweeted: “There has been a network-wide failure of UK air traffic control computer systems this morning.
“Although we are hopeful of being able to operate most intra-Scotland flights on the basis of local co-ordination and with a minimum of disruption, north-south and international flights may be subject to delays.
“If you are flying with us today, please check our website for the latest information about your flight before setting off for the airport.”
At Stansted, Ryanair passengers told PA they had been told to wait at their gate until further notice.
British Airways said in a statement: “We are working closely with NATS to understand the impact of a technical issue that is affecting UK airspace and will keep our customers up to date with the latest information.”
Tui warned of “significant delays”.
In a reply to a passenger asking if their flight on Tuesday is likely to be delayed, Tui tweeted: “Due to an Air Traffic Control outage across UK airports, we expect that this may cause significant delays to some of our flights.
“We would like to advise customers to monitor the departure boards or your emails for further updates.
“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Michele Robson, who used to work in air traffic control, said that it was “unusual” for failures to last this long.
She told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: “There was a flight planning system failure this morning which affected both centres in the UK.”
Speaking from Jersey Airport while waiting to fly to London, she said: “Now they have enough data for four hours for controllers to work normally. After that point, they have to go manual which means that they work at a much slower rate so they can handle far less aircraft.
“So it looks like there’s been what they would call a zero rate put on, where it means that no aircraft can take off inbound to the UK or probably outbound. It would generally be them trying to land things that were already in the air.
“So at the moment, we’re just sitting here with no definite takeoff time.”
She said failures normally “only last a couple of hours”.
“It’s unusual for it to be off for this amount of time. So nobody really knows at this point how long it’s going to take.”
BBC presenter Gabby Logan said she had been caught up in the delays.
She tweeted: “On a plane on the runway at Budapest airport. After almost 3 weeks away from home I am hours from hugging my family.
“And have just been told UK airspace is shut. We could be here for 12 hours. So we sit on the plane and wait.”Published: by Radio NewsHub