How a computer glitch brought London’s airports to a standstill

computer glitch brought londons airports standstill heathrow view
If the weather doesn’t delay your flight, then a computer bug might: A server error was responsible for bringing London’s airports to a standstill for several hours yesterday, leaving hundreds of flights delayed or cancelled completely. The fault was fixed by the end of the day but the knock-on effects have continued into the weekend as the backlog of planes is cleared.

National Air Traffic Control Services (NATS), responsible for air traffic management in the U.K., confirmed that everything is now up and running again. “Following a technical fault with the flight data system used by air traffic controllers at Swanwick, NATS can confirm that the system has been restored to full operational capability and a thorough investigation is continuing,” it said in a press statement. “Although operational restrictions applied during the failure have been lifted, it will take time for flight operations across the U.K. to fully recover so passengers should contact their airline for the status of their flight.”

As for the root cause of the glitch, a post on the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation website suggested that a faulty server was to blame for the system going down. Early reports that the outage was due to a power failure have been denied by NATS, and a hacking attack has also been ruled out. The airlines and the passengers involved are likely to be looking for compensation for the lost time and revenue caused by the technical problems.

During the time that the systems went down, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports were able to accept planes coming in to land, but because flights weren’t able to leave, space soon filled up. Large numbers of passengers were rerouted to other airports while those looking to get away for Christmas were left with no option but to sit tight until the jam was cleared.

The inconvenienced travelers aren’t the only ones upset about the episode: “Any disruption to our aviation system is a matter of the utmost concern, especially at this time of year in the run up to the holiday season,” said U.K. Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin. “Disruption on this scale is simply unacceptable and I have asked NATS for a full explanation of this evening’s incident. I also want to know what steps will be taken to prevent this happening again.”

The the £623m ($979m) London Air Traffic Control Center at Swanwick opened in 2002 but has suffered a number of technical problems and glitches in its short history — the facility handles 5,000 flights in a typical 24-hour window. If you’re traveling to, from or through London this weekend then the best course of action is to check with your airline about possible delays and cancellations.

[Image: Heathrow Airport]

Product Review

JBL’s Live 650BTNC are a wonderful everyday listening companion

A long-lasting battery, solid active noise cancelation, and vibrant sound make the JBL Live 650BTNC a great pair of headphones for everyday listening. Looking for feature-packed wireless headphones at a low price? These are just the ticket.
Cars

Keep your driving record squeaky clean with these top-flight radar detectors

Nobody likes getting a speeding ticket, but these gadgets can help. Check out our picks for the best radar detectors on the market, from the likes of Valentine One, Escort, and Beltronics.
Gaming

These awesome free-to-play games might be even better than the ones you paid for

Believe it or not, free-to-play games have evolved into engaging, enjoyable experiences. Here are a few of our favorites that you can play right now, including Warframe and the perennially popular League of Legends.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (April 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Computing

Here's everything you need to know about setting up your wireless router

Want to get Wi-Fi working in your home, but don't know where to start? Here's a quick tutorial outlining the four basic steps needed for most routers. You'll be browsing on your laptop from the couch in no time.
Computing

AMD will launch anniversary edition Radeon VII and 2700X to celebrate 50th year

Ahead of its new hardware lines launching this summer, AMD will celebrate its 50th anniversary with special editions of its top-tier gaming hardware: the Radeon VII and Ryzen 2700X.
Product Review

Without 4K or Core i9, the new Razer Blade Pro trades features for polish

Razer hasn’t updated its 17-inch gaming laptop for a couple of years, while showering most of its attention on the smaller sibling. The new Razer Blade Pro takes a lot of cues from the 15-inch model, stretching it out for the big screen.
Computing

Intel’s new Core i9 processors bring 8-core power to laptops

Intel announced a new line of ninth-generation mobile processors that bring eight-core Core i9 processors to laptops. In addition, the company announced a slate of new desktops CPUs that bring the rest of the lineup up to date.
Computing

Pain in the wrists? Type in comfort with one of these great ergonomic keyboards

Long typing sessions can leave anyone's wrists aching, but if you have one of the best ergonomic keyboards, that doesn't have to be the case. Our list of favorites will support good typing posture while being comfortable to use.
Computing

Lenovo Legion, IdeaPad gaming laptops sport 9th-gen CPUs and 16-series graphics

Lenovo is expanding its gaming laptop range with a line of new Legion and IdeaPad notebooks that sport Intel's latest, ninth-generation Core CPUs up to an i7 and a choice of Nvidia graphics with options for everything up to an RTX 2080…
Computing

Asus launches a fleet of ROG gaming laptops with 240Hz screens and 9th-gen CPUs

Asus launched updates to nearly every gaming laptop line they have, ranging from the high-end Zephyrus to the budget-level TUF Gaming. The naming schemes might be hard to parse, but there are some impressive options in Asus' new lineup.
Computing

Nvidia’s new GTX 1660 Ti and 1650 graphics cards for laptops start at $799

Nvidia announced the GTX 1660 Ti and GTX 1650, two new mobile graphics cards to flesh out the Turing lineup for laptops. These GPUs don't have the ray tracing capabilities of the RTX 20 series, but start at much lower prices.
Computing

Microsoft reverses decision and extends lifeline to MS Paint for Windows 10

Microsoft reversed its decision to deprecate the classic MS Paint software on Windows 10. Microsoft announced on Twitter that the mainstay free image editor that comes pre-installed with Windows will live on for now.
Computing

Acer gives Predator, Nitro gaming notebooks CPU and GPU upgrades

Acer's latest gaming notebooks will be getting a processor and graphics boost. The company announced that Intel's ninth-generation mobile CPU and Nvidia's GTX 1660 Ti will land on the Predator Helios 300, Nitro 7, and Nitro 5 laptops.