Computer fault grounds aircraft

Air traffic out of Heathrow was suspended for forty minutes this morning following computer problems at the National Air Traffic Control Services

A computer fault delayed a number of flights out of UK airports this morning.

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) said its Flight Data Processing (FDP) system at West Drayton developed a fault today at 0930 but was restored to full operations by 0950.

Nats said restrictions that were imposed on flights as a result of the fault led to delays for some travellers — but added that the restrictions have been lifted and controllers are working to clear the backlog.

According to the BBC, 100 flights at Heathrow Airport were directly affected by the fault as no planes were allowed to take off for 40 minutes.

But NATS emphasised "throughout the period, NATS controllers were able to operate normally using radar and radio systems which were unaffected."

Maastricht Air Traffic Control Centre also suffered a service interruption from 1000 this morning. NATS said that while there is no reason to believe the failures are connected this will also lead to further travel delays.

Ian Hall, director of operations at NATS, said: "We sincerely apologise to those who have been inconvenienced this morning. We did everything we could to restore the full air traffic control service as quickly as possible and minimise the delays and impact on the day's schedules."

He added: "A new FDP system sits at the heart of our £1bn modernisation programme. It will enable us to deliver the robust service our customers expect."