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.
There has been a failure of the Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System. Contingency procedures are being put in place which will have the effect of reducing the capacity of the European network by approximately 10%. Further information will be provided as soon as possible.— EUROCONTROL (@eurocontrol) April 3, 2018
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.
Due to a system failure at @eurocontrol, which is responsible for European air navigation, airspace capacity across Europe is reduced. We're expecting delays & cancellations to some flights. Passengers are advised to contact airline for flight status https://t.co/SRTNUlpF5t— London City Airport (@LondonCityAir) April 3, 2018
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.
We can confirm that all our systems are now up and running normally. We are doing a full analysis of what happened so that lessons can be learned. Our sincere apologies to all those affected.— EUROCONTROL (@eurocontrol) April 4, 2018
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. ®