The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is to launch an independent review into the NATS technical issue last week that saw hundreds of flights delayed and cancelled.

A preliminary technical report published by NATS found the incident occurred due to an anomaly that forced the system to stop processing flight plans.

The system was closed to maintain safety and required manual operation to continue service.

CAA review of NATS response

The UK CAA will now independently review the wider issues around the system failure and how NATS responded to the incident.

If there is evidence that suggests it may have breached its statutory and licensing obligations, the UK Civil Aviation Authority said it would “take any appropriate steps”.

The review will also set out lessons to be learned for the future for the benefit of consumers and the industry.

Rob Bishton, Joint-Interim Chief Executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “Millions of passengers every year rely on air traffic control to work smoothly and safely.

“The initial report by NATS raises several important questions and as the regulator we want to make sure these are answered for passengers and industry.

“If there is evidence to suggest NATS may have breached its statutory and licensing obligations we will consider whether any further action is necessary.”

1500 flights cancelled and hundreds more delayed

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: “I welcome NATS’ preliminary report outlining the facts of last week’s air traffic control technical failure – particularly the confirmation that there were no safety issues as a result.

“I also welcome the CAA’s announcement of an independent review to dig deeper into this event and understand whether there are any further steps to be taken to improve the resilience of the air traffic control system.

“Thousands of passengers faced disruption as a result of the failure, with over 1500 flights cancelled and hundreds more delayed. I once again want to echo NATS’s apology to those who were caught up in it, with a technical fix now identified to ensure that such an incident does not recur.

“I will chair a further meeting between NATS, the CAA and the aviation industry tomorrow to allow NATS to present their findings and consider initial feedback from airlines.”
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