The technical failure that caused hundreds of flights to and from the UK to be canceled and severely disrupted thousands of travelers last week was due to a “1 in 15 million chance”, the country’s air traffic control agency said. announced Wednesday.
“We have processed 15 million flight plans with this system,” said Martin Rolfe, CEO of the UK’s National Air Traffic Authority. BBC’s Today program. And the service was “never seen before,” he said.
On Wednesday, the agency released a report based on its internal investigation into the incident, detailing what Rolfe described as an “incredibly unusual set of circumstances.”
According to the report, the air traffic control system detected two separate navigation data with the same name in the flight plan of one aircraft. As a result, both the system’s primary and backup computer systems were shut down to prevent incorrect information from being passed to the controller.
The service then reverted to manual air traffic control and could handle fewer flights.
“Keeping the skies safe is the guiding principle for everything we do and in last week’s incident it was our priority,” Rolfe said in a statement.
The problem was resolved hours later, but 799 outbound flights and 786 inbound flights were canceled on Aug. 28, according to aviation analytics firm Cilium. The chaos lasted until August 29, when more than 300 flights were canceled.
Rolfe apologized again to affected passengers, many of whom were stranded at airports and tarmacs for hours or had to wait for alternative flights. He said the National Air Traffic Administration could handle the problem if it happened again.
Britain’s Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper said, “We have taken steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur again.” wrote on social media on wednesday.
The Civil Aviation Authority, which oversees British aviation safety, said Wednesday. had started An independent review of issues and responses to assess whether the National Air Traffic Administration has breached its obligations. The results are expected to be published by the end of this month, officials said.
Wednesday’s report comes after a New York Times investigation found an alarming pattern of safety deviations and near misses in US skies and airport runways.