Eurocontrol Systems Failure Causes European Flight Delays

April 3, 2018

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A computer outage at European air traffic manager Eurocontrol reduced capacity and caused disruptions and delays to about half of the region’s flights on Tuesday.

Eurocontrol said a problem with its Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System (ETFMS) caused the loss of flight plans filed before 10:26. Contingency plans during the outage resulted in a capacity reduction of about 10 percent of the European network.

Around 29,500 flights were expected in the network during Tuesday, with the system typically handling about 36,000 flights a day during busy periods.

Europe’s largest low cost airline Ryanair said some of its flights were delayed and that it had to cancel a small number of departures.

Normal flow management restarted at around 18:00, with flight operations slowly recovering during the evening. Some residual delays may occur on Wednesday as airlines recover from the outage.

ETFMS is central to flow management, which regulates the flow of flights around Europe. Eurocontrol said Air Traffic Control functions were not directly affected and there were no safety implications arising from the outage.

Eurocontrol said that in over 20 years of operation, the ETFMS has only had one other outage, in 2001.