The U.K.’s Air Traffic Control Faces Technical Issue Causing Flight Disruptions

The U.K.’s Air Traffic Control Faces Technical Issue Causing Flight Disruptions

The U.K.’s air traffic control provider, the National Air Traffic Service (NATS), announced on Monday that it had identified and remedied a technical issue that caused disruptions to flights across the country. The afternoon update from NATS stated that they were actively working with airlines and airports to manage the affected flights, as passengers were warned of potential hours-long delays. While the statement mentioned the resolution of the technical issue, no specific details regarding the cause or remaining flight restrictions were provided.

Earlier announcements from NATS had revealed that a technical fault had affected the automatic processing of flight plans, leading to manual handling of air traffic control. The agency applied traffic flow restrictions as a safety measure while engineers worked to identify and fix the fault. Despite efforts, the fault remained unresolved by the time of the 2.20 p.m. update, and air traffic control continued to be handled manually. The need for manual input of flight plans led to a decrease in processing volume, resulting in traffic flow restrictions being applied.

Following the announcement that the technical glitch had been remedied, a spokesperson from Heathrow airport cautioned that flight schedules would still experience significant disruptions for the remainder of the day. Passengers were advised to only travel to the airport if their flights were confirmed as still operating. The disruption heavily impacted the U.K.’s busy bank holiday travel period, with many individuals returning from their summer holidays.

Several major airports in the U.K. reported the effects of the air traffic control issue. Gatwick Airport, the second-largest airport in London, indicated that delays were occurring and flight cancellations were likely. Luton Airport confirmed that the air traffic control issue was affecting UK airspace, resulting in disruptions to flights. Meanwhile, Stansted Airport acknowledged the nationwide air traffic control problem, which was causing disturbances in flight operations across the country.

Flight tracking website Flightradar24 shared a live air traffic data image on X at 12:35 p.m. London time. The image showcased significantly limited departures from various UK airports, including Heathrow. However, the arrivals to London were still ongoing. Flightradar24 also mentioned that all the most tracked flights at that moment were London-bound flights, adding to the evidence of the impact on departures and further confirming the severity of the situation.

The U.K.’s air traffic control experienced a technical issue that disrupted flight operations across the country. While NATS worked diligently to identify and resolve the problem, manual handling of air traffic control and traffic flow restrictions were implemented in the meantime. The disruption significantly impacted flight schedules, leading to delays, cancellations, and warnings to passengers. Major airports such as Gatwick, Luton, and Stansted reported disruptions due to the air traffic control issue. Flightradar24 provided visual evidence of limited departures and emphasized the focus of London arrivals during the incident. As the U.K.’s air traffic control provider continues to monitor system performance and aims to return to normal operations, the incident serves as a reminder of the crucial role played by air traffic control in ensuring safe and efficient air travel.


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