A recent report, published in the month of September, highlighted the multiple flight delays announced by British Airways due to computer systems failure. Representatives from the airline were reported saying that there were some issues with the check-in systems that affected certain flights coming back from the United States.This disruption with British Airways flights came nearly a month after DAL or Delta got struck by a worldwide computer outage. This led to travellers suffering days of chaos all over the world and involved the cancellation of nearly 2,000 flights.
Flight delays due to excessive automation
According to another news report published in the month of July this year, the 4th largest airline in the U.S. (by passenger traffic), Southwest Airlines had put a temporary halt to all flight departures since it was working to resolve problems that involved multiple technology systems. There were complaints from customers regarding the failure to check in, leading to massive flight delays. The company grounded nearly all flights in its Chicago hub.
This was just one of the few glitches faced by several airlines all over the world due a range of high-profile computer problems. According to industry consultants, the flight delays and other losses resulting from computer system disruptions would keep increasing with airlines automating a larger part of their operations. This includes the distribution of boarding passes via smartphones, outfitting flights with Wi-Fi etc.
Why do computer systems crash?
So what is the cause behind the crashing down of computers and airlines having to announce flight delays stranding several hundred passengers at airports?
It’s difficult to buy the explanation offered by Delta Air Lines (DAL) which had to face a major computer outage earlier this year. It definitely cannot be just ‘human error’ or ‘screw ups’. When DAL went down due to a systems problem, it had to delay all its flight for a minimum of six hours all over the world. That’s a long wait!The airline held power outage responsible for the problem. However, power outage alone couldn’t have caused the entire system to crash. Backups are always available and the airline’s system should have kept running smoothly with their support.
According to airline experts, there are basically 3 reasons why an airline could crash:
- Lack of back-up
It is possible that an airline may have overlooked protecting itself with the support of a solid backup system (though this might not have been the case with Delta).
A malicious attacker was responsible for the systems crash. Again, this is unlikely to be the case with Delta since a hack into the airline’s system would possibly have been identified and the system would have been revived in a short span of time.
- Human error
The piling up of multiple layers of computer systems over a period of time could create a glitch with the whole thing abruptly crashing down. This is perhaps what happened with Delta.