Com­puter glitch de­lays United Air­lines flights

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

PA RI S : Thou­sands of pas­sen­gers were de­layed world­wide af­ter a com­puter glitch tem­po­rar­ily halted depar­tures at United Air­lines, the lat­est in a se­ries of out­ages to af­fect ri­val com­pa­nies in the in­dus­try. United said on Twit­ter that an is­sue with its weight re­port­ing sys­tem de­layed flights start­ing Thurs­day, and it re­solved the prob­lem by 3 AM EDT (07 GMT) on Fri­day. The No 3 US air­line by pas­sen­ger traf­fic is work­ing to de­ter­mine the cause, its spokesman said Fri­day.

Weight and bal­ance sys­tems cal­cu­late a plane’s cen­tre of grav­ity and if it is car­ry­ing no more than it can han­dle to fly. On Fri­day, de­lays of­ten lasted 10 to 20 min­utes due to United’s crew hav­ing to han­dle some tasks man­u­ally, the spokesman said. But some pas­sen­gers re­ported they had to wait aboard planes or in­side ter­mi­nals for sev­eral hours.

“On the plane for more than an hour, away from the gate and no com­mu­ni­ca­tion. What’s hap­pen­ing?,” one pas­sen­ger tweeted. In Paris, pas­sen­gers com­plained as check-in lines grew for a flight to New York, a Reuters re­porter said on Fri­day morn­ing.

As of 5 PM EDT (21:00 GMT), United had can­celled 11 flights and de­layed 216, or 9 per­cent of its op­er­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to flight track­ing web­site FlightAware.com. The large size of global air­lines and their need to au­to­mate sys­tems to be re­li­able mean re­cov­er­ing from glitches will al­most al­ways take some time, de­spite in­vest­ment and re­dun­dan­cies, said Bob Ed­wards, United’s former chief in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer un­til 2014.

This is the third com­puter glitch re­cently to hit United’s owner United Con­ti­nen­tal Hold­ings Inc and the lat­est in a se­ries of prob­lems that have tested air­lines’ reliance on aging tech­nol­ogy.

This has prompted some ex­perts to ques­tion whether the air­line in­dus­try has in­vested enough in tech­nol­ogy in­fra­struc­ture, given new prof­its from bag­gage and can­cel­la­tion fees. On June 2, 2015 soft­ware needed to dis­patch United’s flight plan briefly lost func­tion­al­ity. In July 2015, the same air­line’s flights were dis­rupted af­ter a com­puter prob­lem blocked ac­cess to reser­va­tions records.

This Au­gust, Delta Air Lines Inc can­celled thou­sands of flights and de­layed many oth­ers af­ter a power out­age hit its com­puter sys­tems. And in Septem­ber, a sys­tem-wide com­puter prob­lem at Bri­tish Air­ways caused sig­nif­i­cant de­lays. Af­ter the pre­vi­ous in­ci­dents, United said it had in­vested in backup plans. —Reuters

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