This week: Computer glitches in USA & UK cause chaos & more

It’s been a rather tough week for airport IT professionals in the United Kingdom and the USA after two unrelated glitches caused havoc for Millions of travelers in the two countries. Here are our topics for this week:

It almost happened at the same time that the two computer systems went down. In the United States, KTLA 5 wrote that all flights were temporarily grounded at Southern California airports on Wednesday afternoon due to ground stop issued by the FAA because of technical problems at a regional air traffic control facility. The stop was “due to computer issues,” Los Angeles International Airport stated on Twitter. Aside From Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Flights were also grounded at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank (BUR), John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana (SNA), Long Beach Airport (LGB) and Ontario International Airport (ONT), representatives of those airports confirmed.

A different computer problem plagued the UK when the BBC reported that an IT glitch meant UK Border Force staff were forced to manually input passport details for those arriving in the UK rather than simply scanning documents resulting in delays of up to 90 minutes for passengers on Wednesday evening at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR), while the queuing time at Gatwick Airport (LGW) was even longer. A traveler affected by the delays was quoted in the article saying “People were joking a bit, generally well-behaved and resigned to a long wait, typically British. Border agency staff were professional, friendly and helpful but clearly struggling with failed computers.”

Then over in Malaysia Yahoo! News reported that this week the country opens what it calls the world’s largest airport built specifically for low-cost airlines, a project driven by budget travel’s phenomenal growth but which debuts under the shadow of missing flight MH370. According to the article the $1.2 billion facility near the main Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) was originally targeted to open three years ago but has been hit by repeated delays, amid concerns over safety and subpar construction, even as costs have doubled. The best thing about the new terminal in our opinion is however, that it offers access to the existing airport express trains to Kuala Lumpur.

The next news article read to us like a scene from groundhog day: a Swiss International Airlines Avro RJ100 with issues at London City Airport (LCY)The Guardian broke the story that a flight from London City airport was forced into an emergency landing at Stansted (STN) after an engine caught fire early in its flight to Basel. The engine fire, on Swiss flight LX487 on Sunday night, was the second such incident on an Avro RJ100 aircraft in the Swiss fleet at City in the space of a month, after an explosion briefly closed the runway in late March.

Our last story is a sad one for at least one elderly passenger on an Alitalia flight from Rome. The Irish Times reported this week that a man died on board a transatlantic flight this evening while a second passenger, also believed to have suffered a heart attack, is recovering in hospital. According to the article the two passengers were travelling on board Alitalia flight AZ-610 that was en route from Fiumicino in Rome to JFK Airport in New York. The flight had just crossed the Irish coastline and commenced its Atlantic crossing when the crew declared a May Day, reporting a passenger on board had suffered a heart attack. The flight turned around and routed towards Shannon Airport (SNN). About 15 minutes before landing, the pilot informed to air traffic controllers that cabin crew staff were dealing with a second patient also with suspected cardiac problems.

That’s all for this week – safe travels everyone.

[Photo Credit: Rosa Menkman via Compfight cc]