UK Government Launches Independent Inquiry into ATC Chaos

UK Government Launches Independent Inquiry into ATC Chaos

Officials in the UK government have launched in independent inquiry into the failure of air traffic control services in south-east England on Friday.

London Gatwick Airport air traffic control tower

London Gatwick Airport air traffic control tower


National Air Traffic Services blamed a software glitch at its centre at Swanwick in Hampshire for the disruption, which resulted in delays at London Heathrow and London Gatwick airports. Heathrow also cancelled approximately 40 flights on Saturday morning before normal services resumed.

The inquiry will look at NATS’s handling of the episode and whether lessons were learned from previous failures. UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin will also be questioned by MPs about the incident.

Civil Aviation Authority officials confirmed that they will appoint an independent chair to lead the inquiry, which will take evidence from experts on information technology and air traffic control.

The latest incident comes a year after a telephone failure at the Hampshire control room caused flights to be disrupted, the latest in a series of technical hitches to hit the partly-privatised NATS since the Swanwick centre opened in 2002.

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NEIL STEEDMAN has been a trade journalist, copywriter, editor and proofreader for 52 years, and News & Features Editor for ‘Irish Travel Trade News’ for the past 42 years.

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