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Caused by ‘incorrect’ flight data: Latest updates on UK air traffic chaos

Aug 30, 2023 04:06 PM IST

UK Air Traffic Chaos: Reiterating UK government’s previous statement, the air traffic control boss said that it was not caused by a cyber-attack.

UK air traffic control chief said "unreliable" flight data was the cause of widespread disruption that affected thousands of passengers stuck at airports. Martin Rolfe, the chief executive of National Air Traffic Services (NATS), said an initial investigation found that the air traffic control failure was caused by flight data which its system "didn't understand" and "couldn't interpret".

UK Air Traffic Chaos: Passengers are seen waiting for delayed flights in London's Heathrow airport.(AP)

Reiterating UK government’s previous statement, the air traffic control boss said that it was not caused by a cyber-attack.

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“Initial investigations into the problem show it relates to some of the flight data we received,” Martin Rolfe said, adding, “Our systems, both primary and the back-ups, responded by suspending automatic processing to ensure that no incorrect safety-related information could be presented to an air traffic controller or impact the rest of the air traffic system. There are no indications that this was a cyber-attack."

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Reassuring passengers, the air traffic chief said that since Monday afternoon all systems have been running “normally” but acknowledged that the “knock-on effects” could continue to be felt for days at a particularly busy travel time of the year over the summer holidays.

“We know it is something in the flight data and we will get to the bottom of it and understand why. We are conducting an investigation, we will conduct it incredibly thoroughly,” he continued.

NATS said it has identified the issue around the way the system and "several levels of backups" reacted to the incorrect data. Meanwhile, it said it is working with the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on the investigation and that the conclusions of that report will be made public.

Analysis of flight data found around 281 flights, including departures and arrivals, were cancelled on Tuesday at UK's six busiest airports – 75 at Gatwick, 74 at Heathrow, 63 at Manchester, 28 at Stansted, 23 at Luton and 18 at Edinburgh.

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