Router cockup grounds United Airlines flights WORLDWIDE

FAA issues, then lifts, stop order

A single dodgy router managed to crash the entire United Airlines computer network, leading to the cancellation of flights across the globe.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all United flights at around 8am ET on Wednesday, at United's request, meaning that aircraft were stuck at the gates and no boarding could be processed. The stop was lifted at 9:47am ET and United is slowly bringing its systems back online.

"We are recovering from a network connectivity issue this morning and restoring regular flight operations. We have a waiver available at for customers who are able to change their flight plans," a spokeswoman told The Register.

"An issue with a router degraded network connectivity for various applications, causing this morning’s operational disruption. We fixed the router issue, which is enabling us to restore normal functions."

Getting the computer system online is only the start of United's troubles today. The airline now has to deal with the cascade effect of stopping aircraft for so long. Travelers are likely to face an even worse experience in the world's airports than United usually provides.

Airlines work on a just-in-time policy and a delay of hours like this will throw all of its schedules out of whack. The FAA stop order will have reduced the harm, since flight schedules can be moved as a block rather than individually, but there are still going to be a lot of missed connections.

That a single dodgy router can ground United's entire fleet speaks volumes about the company's IT systems and their resilience. One suspects that the firm's IT staff will be facing a severe bollocking over the issue. Maybe it should offer more than peanuts for bug fixes. ®

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