UK flights CRIPPLED by system outage that shut ALL London airspace

Live under Luton, Heathrow, Stansted flight path? Sleep tight!


All London airspace was closed to incoming and departing traffic for just under an hour on Friday afternoon due to a computer outage at the National Air Traffic Services – Blighty's air traffic control authority.

According to the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, a machine failure resulted in all airspace over the capital being closed. All flights from Heathrow were put on hold.

“There is an outage at the NATS control centre in Swanwick, which is affecting UK airspace. Flights are currently experiencing delays and we will update passengers as soon as we have more information," said a spokesman from Heathrow as the effects of the outage spread.

Nats confirmed the outage was due to a "technical problem" at its Swanwick air traffic control centre. A Nats spokesman said: "We apologise for any delays and our incident response team has been mobilised Every possible action is being taken to assist in resolving the situation and to confirm the details."

It was initially feared there was a power supply fault at the heart of the chaos, but Martin Rolfe, the managing director of Nats, later ruled this out. Instead, it appears to be a computer breakdown.

An eyewitness told The Register that no flights are leaving London Gatwick airport. A Gatwick airport spokesman confirmed no flights were departing from the airport at the height of the problems.

Luton airport would not comment when we contacted them.

A spokesman from Stansted Airport said flights are still landing at the airport but all departing flights are being held.

London airspace has since partially reopened but traffic volumes are restricted following the server failure.

A Nats spokeswoman said, about 45 minutes after news of the outage broke, that airspace was now re-opened but capacity is restricted, adding that this could affect areas outside of London.

Ryanair said: "We has been advised by Nats that UK airspace south of Manchester has been closed until 7pm."

A spokesman from EasyJet said the outage is affecting all of their in-bound and out-bound flights across the UK.

A Nats spokesman said restrictions have now been lifted and that flights are now returning to normal, although he said there will be "residual delays".

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) at Swanwick in Hampshire is a major customer of Microsoft with Windows on PCs and servers. It also has a load of RISC boxes and IBM gear, we're told. There's no indication what component of the network was at fault at time of publication.

Air traffic services are run by a relatively small IT team with knowhow and support from Lockheed Martin. Common-or-garden tech is outsourced to Serco, Capgemini, Amore Group Attenda, BT and Vodafone.

Were you involved in the chaos? Get in touch with The Register and tell us what's happening - email news@theregister.co.uk or tweet us @TheRegister. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading
  • China-linked Twisted Panda caught spying on Russian defense R&D
    Because Beijing isn't above covert ops to accomplish its five-year goals

    Chinese cyberspies targeted two Russian defense institutes and possibly another research facility in Belarus, according to Check Point Research.

    The new campaign, dubbed Twisted Panda, is part of a larger, state-sponsored espionage operation that has been ongoing for several months, if not nearly a year, according to the security shop.

    In a technical analysis, the researchers detail the various malicious stages and payloads of the campaign that used sanctions-related phishing emails to attack Russian entities, which are part of the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec Corporation.

    Continue reading
  • FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid's data
    Trade watchdog, and President, reminds that COPPA can ban ya

    The US Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said it intends to take action against educational technology companies that unlawfully collect data from children using online educational services.

    In a policy statement, the agency said, "Children should not have to needlessly hand over their data and forfeit their privacy in order to do their schoolwork or participate in remote learning, especially given the wide and increasing adoption of ed tech tools."

    The agency says it will scrutinize educational service providers to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations under COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

    Continue reading
  • Mysterious firm seeks to buy majority stake in Arm China
    Chinese joint venture's ousted CEO tries to hang on - who will get control?

    The saga surrounding Arm's joint venture in China just took another intriguing turn: a mysterious firm named Lotcap Group claims it has signed a letter of intent to buy a 51 percent stake in Arm China from existing investors in the country.

    In a Chinese-language press release posted Wednesday, Lotcap said it has formed a subsidiary, Lotcap Fund, to buy a majority stake in the joint venture. However, reporting by one newspaper suggested that the investment firm still needs the approval of one significant investor to gain 51 percent control of Arm China.

    The development comes a couple of weeks after Arm China said that its former CEO, Allen Wu, was refusing once again to step down from his position, despite the company's board voting in late April to replace Wu with two co-chief executives. SoftBank Group, which owns 49 percent of the Chinese venture, has been trying to unentangle Arm China from Wu as the Japanese tech investment giant plans for an initial public offering of the British parent company.

    Continue reading
  • SmartNICs power the cloud, are enterprise datacenters next?
    High pricing, lack of software make smartNICs a tough sell, despite offload potential

    SmartNICs have the potential to accelerate enterprise workloads, but don't expect to see them bring hyperscale-class efficiency to most datacenters anytime soon, ZK Research's Zeus Kerravala told The Register.

    SmartNICs are widely deployed in cloud and hyperscale datacenters as a means to offload input/output (I/O) intensive network, security, and storage operations from the CPU, freeing it up to run revenue generating tenant workloads. Some more advanced chips even offload the hypervisor to further separate the infrastructure management layer from the rest of the server.

    Despite relative success in the cloud and a flurry of innovation from the still-limited vendor SmartNIC ecosystem, including Mellanox (Nvidia), Intel, Marvell, and Xilinx (AMD), Kerravala argues that the use cases for enterprise datacenters are unlikely to resemble those of the major hyperscalers, at least in the near term.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022