Two Minus One Equals ???

Did you hear about the recent computer/radar outage on Friday in Europe?  From what I can gather from the various news reports, it was actually a computer outage for the processing of flight plans, similar to those NADIN failures that happened here in the United States.

Pay close attention to the times of the various news reports and what was said when.

Bloomberg Businessweek (Associated Press) reported at 10:35 am Eastern that a spokesperson for the Swedish Air Navigation Services stated that capacity should be returning to normal by 11:00 am Eastern. (That would be Friday.)

The Associated Press reporters on the story noted:

An online map of flights showed delays of around 45 minutes for 1036 flights landing, taking off from, or transiting Holland, nothern Germany and parts of Belgium and Luxembourg at 14:30 GMT (10:30 a.m. EDT).

Reuters News reported at 12:05 pm Eastern that a spokesperson for Eurocontrol stated that the computer failure had been fixed but flights may be backed up into the early hours of Saturday morning.

“We are talking about less than 100 flights (affected),” Konnemann said, declining to give exact numbers.

Less than 45 minutes later (12:46 Eastern), Bloomberg reported that the same Eurocontrol spokesperson said:

About 250 out of 4,500 flights handled by the agency’s Maastricht office were affected after one of two flight-plan processing computers failed

Yahoo News (again Associated Press) reported at 2:23 pm Eastern that a different Eurocontrol spokesperson stated:

Eurocontrol, based in Brussels, Belgium, estimated that 700 flights would be affected in total and delays were expected to add up to 15,000 to 20,000 minutes, Pasquini said.

The Maastricht facility handles around 5,500 flights a day.

Air traffic controllers there usually handle about 200 flights an hour

A couple things stand out for me.  The Maastricht facility either handles around 4,500 flights a day, or maybe it’s 5,500, but then maybe it’s really 4,800 (200/hour x 24) flights a day.

Around 100 flights, or maybe 250 flights or, then again, maybe 700 flights were delayed for a total of 15,000 or 20,000 or maybe over 45,000 minutes.

Swedish Air Navigation Services is a corporate entity.  Do you remember that in the NextGen ConOps vision, we’ll be called Air Navigation Services Providers?  Might be coincidence, but probably not.

I wonder whether Eurocontrol’s flight plan processing system is an Industry variation of our NADIN.

Guess it doesn’t matter whether the spokesperson(s) are corporate or governmental, the math just doesn’t add up.

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