IT glitch causes major BA flight disruptions

Updated story:

A glitch with British Airway’s IT systems has left thousands stuck at a number of UK airports.

It’s thought that check-in and departure systems have been affected by the fault. With other passengers reporting that their “pilot can’t get data”.

In a statement, BA has said,  “We are experiencing some systems problems this morning which are affecting check-in and flight departures.”

Over 200 flights have been delayed whilst 81 flights were canceled at Heathrow and 10 at Gatwick.

Dealing with passengers

To deal with the problem, the company is switching to a manual system to try and assist with disgruntled passengers.

One customer took to Twitter to say, “Major computer failure with British Airways at Gatwick this morning. This is the queue for the queue at check in. Currently stuck on ground cos pilot can’t get data. Set off early if you have a flight”.

The airline has said that it is only 2 systems that have been affected by the problem. One being the IT structure that deals with departures and the other being the system that sorts out check-ins.

Not the first time.

Back in 2017, the airline was hit by a similar problem when an IT-based data centre failure grounded 672 flights worldwide, costing the company £58 million.

Speaking about IT glitches at airports, Lev Lesokhin, EVP of Strategy and Analytics at CAST commented earlier on this year: “The IT systems required to operate airport, customer and carrier logistics are mind boggling in their complexity. The only way to ensure smooth flight operations is a thorough examination of what’s in the software managing these processes, identifying areas of vulnerability or instability. As this outage, and many other recent outages demonstrate, airline carriers and their software suppliers need to tackle the technical debt of the legacy systems at the heart of modern aviation.”

The difficulty of testing

Lesokhin also debated BA’s most recent IT issue, discussing how hard testing is, but suggests that BA may not be carrying out all the full tests it should be.

He says: “Every time IT needs to roll out new capabilities, they create layers of software on top of the existing legacy systems. These new layers are tested, of course, but the number of situations that can happen during live use is very hard to predict. Also, it’s increasingly hard to test the entire transaction chain, because that requires recreating a test version of the whole set of systems. Some of the more advanced telecoms and financial services companies are using software intelligence to do structural engineering assessments of these complex transactions in order to prevent unexpected flaws. We know for a fact that BA is not doing these kinds of assessments.”

British Airways insists this is not a global problem.


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