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The UK CAA to enquire into the massive IT system crash Friday

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December 15, 2014

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The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the National Air Traffic Services (NATS) have opened a joint independent enquiry into the massive IT failure Friday which grounded hundreds of flights across British airspace.

At first, it was believed that the system crash was caused by a power failure, but now we know otherwise.

On Friday Dec. 12, most of London airspace was effectively shut down due to an IT failure at NATS. Sources told us this was due to an old IBM S/390 mainframe falling over, the one which runs all of the flight data processing system.

Business secretary Vince Cable yesterday accused NATS of "skimping on large scale investment" and running "ancient computer systems, which then crash."

It's the second time in the last year that NATS' systems have gone haywire in a very serious manner.

In December 2013, about 300 flights were cancelled and 1,472 delayed due to a technical issue with a touch screen interface provided by Frequentis.

At the time, NATS published a report promising to improve its IT resilence and minimise the chance of critical similar disruptions happening again.

The latest review will cover the root causes of the incident, NATS’ handling of the failure, and whether some lessons were identified from the previous system crash in December 2013 were put to effective use in this incident.

It will also address the resilience and service that should be expected across the air traffic network and further measures NATS should take to avoid technology failures.

The CAA said it will appoint an independent chair of the panel, which will include NATS technical people, a board member from the CAA and independent experts on IT, air traffic management and operational resilience.

Source: The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

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