Grounded: Major Air Traffic Control Failure in Britain

October 3, 2009

(ChattahBox)—Thousands of passengers have been left stranded this morning in all London-based airports. A major air traffic control failure in Britain has left planes stalled on the ground scheduled to leave for the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Flights coming in from North America to Britain are also affected by the breakdown of the air traffic control system.

The fault happened at 8am BST at the Shanwick air traffic control unit, which handles all aircraft in oceanic air space between western Europe and the U.S. Flights already in the air were controlled manually.

A NATS spokesperson said some flights were being guided manually while the problem was repaired.

“NATS has imposed restrictions on aircraft entering Oceanic airspace. NATS has reverted to manual systems which means reduced capacity leading to some delay. There is no safety implication,” said a NATS spokesperson.

The Shanwick is one of the largest air traffic control failures in Britain, since the 2004 collapse near Heathrow.



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