EUROCONTROL outage causes flight delays across Europe

5 hours downtime in 17 years is pretty good – but moaning about late planes trumps all


EUROCONTROL, the organisation that provides air traffic management for Europe, has apologised for an outage that made a mess of air transport across the continent yesterday.

The problems with the organisation’s Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System (ETFMS) hit at around 13:00 UTC on Tuesday April 3rd.

EUROCONTROL quickly popped out the following Tweet.

Airports and airlines quickly followed with their own announcements of delays. EUROCONTROL admitted to some data loss by asking airlines to re-file flight plans lodged before 10:26 AM UTC on Tuesday.

EUROCONTROL was able to identify the problem and rectify it within a few hours. As of 18:00 UTC on Tuesday the organisation had not only restored service but done so after “extensive internal testing and in coordination with airports, airlines and air traffic control across Europe and beyond.”

Early on Wednesday the organisation declared it was back at full capacity.

EUROCONTROL is silent on the reasons for the outage. The Register has asked it to explain itself and will update this story or pen a new one if we receive useful information.

For now we’re left with just EUROCONTROL’s brief statement that apologises, says “safety was not compromised at any time” and informs us that “in over 20 years of operation, the ETFMS has only had one other outage which occurred in 2001.”

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As the outage appears to have run for about five hours, that means EUROCONTROL has had about 0.0035% downtime for the last 17 years. Which is pretty good even if those inconvenienced by yesterday’s outage probably won’t appreciate what it takes to achieve that level of resilience. ®

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