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UK Aviation Regulator to Investigate Air Traffic Control Fiasco

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The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced an independent review into the major air traffic control failure that wreaked havoc on the August bank holiday weekend. The outage stranded thousands and forced airlines to cancel over 1,500 flights.

The review follows an interim report by operator NATS (En Route) Plc, or National Air Traffic Services (NATS), which blamed a “logic error” for crashing the system. Per NATS, a flight plan processed incorrectly triggered primary and backup systems to shut down, requiring manual input of flight data.

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But airlines demand accountability, citing heavy financial impacts. Ryanair’s CEO labeled NATS’ report a “whitewash,” with an estimated £15-20 million in passenger refunds for his airline alone. Airlines UK seeks clarity on whether NATS can cover costs under current laws.

Although NATS insists the incident did not compromise safety, the CAA review aims to boost system resilience and prevent recurrences. The independent panel will report findings within three months to the Transport Secretary.

NATS maintains the failure was a “one in 15 million” event. But system-wide meltdown from a single bad flight plan has shaken confidence. Swift, transparent action is crucial to restore trust in air traffic control as the CAA determines if NATS breached obligations.

With airport chaos still fresh in travelers’ minds, all eyes will be on the review’s recommendations to fix vulnerabilities and avoid similar failures grounding planes and passengers.

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Shanaz Khan
Shanaz Khan
Shanaz Khan, Co-founder, COO & UK Editorial Lead
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