Technical problem grounds London flights

Hotel News - 29/09/2008

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Due to a radar glitch at one of the UK’s main air traffic control facilities, flights were cancelled and departures were delayed at London-area airports and at other airports around Europe.

Airports worst hit were Heathrow and Gatwick, where only a small number of flights were able to take off when it was determined that there was a technical problem with air traffic control on Thursday afternoon.

Planes were grounded not only at the London airports, but across Europe when the problem meant closing a wide expanse of air space to traffic.

All flights at airports in southern England were grounded for 30 minutes when the problem was discovered, and subsequently departures were set on a schedule of one take-off every 10 minutes. Numerous flights were cancelled due to the disruption.

By 6:00 pm, London flights were taking off on a schedule of one departure every two to three minutes, as compared with normal operating conditions, when the interval is 90 seconds.

The UK air traffic control group, NATS, said that the radar glitch required planes to stay below 24,500 feet, until they were out of southern England airspace.

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