April 1, 2019

IT glitch grounds US flights: “technical debt of the legacy systems” to blame

By Ellen Daniel

Several US airlines have been unable to fly after an IT failure grounded flights at airports around the country earlier today.

The problem started with AeroData, the system airlines use to measure the weight and balance of planes, necessary to give flights the all-clear to take off, which experienced technical issues.

At least five airlines, including Southwest, American Airlines and Delta were affected by a “system-wide outage”, with widespread disruption caused by dozens of flights being delayed, according to Business Insider.

According to a tweet by the Federal Aviation Authority, the issue has now been resolved.

US airport glitch the latest in a string of air IT issues

The latest US airport glitch follows the news that flight reservation system, Sabre, which is used by around 400 airlines, also experienced an outage last week, with passengers flying with several US airlines unable to check in until the problem was fixed.

Last month, Germany’s air traffic control agency also experienced a glitch that lasted for a week, caused by a software problem, which led to some cancellations.

Incidents like this bring into question the current reliability of the aviation sector’s IT systems.

Lev Lesokhin, EVP at software intelligence company CAST believes that the US airport glitch demonstrates that more must be done to identify areas of vulnerability and instability in the software airlines rely on:

“Airports serve millions of passengers a year, Britain’s Heathrow catering to 80 million alone. There is a lot of moving parts from the ticketing systems and passport control to gates and boarding. Even one of them going wrong can bring the whole operation grinding to a halt, the day ruined for every single one of the 200,000 plus passengers – from holiday-makers and their screaming children to critical organ donations.

“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.”

Verdict deals analysis methodology

This analysis considers only announced and completed cloud-deals deals from the GlobalData financial deals database and excludes all terminated and rumoured deals. Country and industry are defined according to the headquarters and dominant industry of the target firm. The term ‘acquisition’ refers to both completed deals and those in the bidding stage.

GlobalData tracks real-time data concerning all merger and acquisition, private equity/venture capital and asset transaction activity around the world from thousands of company websites and other reliable sources.

More in-depth reports and analysis on all reported deals are available for subscribers to GlobalData’s deals database.

Topics in this article: ,