Almost half of all European flights may suffer delays today after a system failure at Eurocontrol, the air traffic coordinating body for the European Union, interfered with the ability to manage the demand and capacity of air traffic, according to the BBC The system, known as Enhanced Tactical Flow Management System, is responsible for managing the flow of European air traffic daily. Eurocontrol operates from Brussels, Belgium, and is responsible for managing around 30,000 flights per day from 41 member states.
The error has forced Eurocontrol's contingency plan, which involves reducing the capacity of the network by grounding aircraft from 10 percent. However, as delays accumulate and more aircraft land and await take-off, the number of affected flights is expected to grow rapidly and could affect up to 50 percent of all daily air traffic.
The actual air traffic systems of individual airports are not in danger, stressed Eurocontrol, which means that air travel remains safe and unaffected. However, airport management is severely restricted in its ability to clear aircraft for takeoff due to system failure, and the BBC reported that some airports cleared only 10 departures per hour. Eurocontrol also says that the system failure resulted in the loss of thousands of flight plans, which airlines must now forward.
The Improved Tactical Flow Management System has failed. Contingency procedures are being implemented that will have the effect of reducing the capacity of the European network by approximately 10%. More information will be provided as soon as possible.- EUROCONTROL (@eurocontrol) April 3, 2018
The problem with the ETFMS was identified and work is being done to recover the system, which is expected to occur late in the afternoon. Aircraft operators are requested to resend flight plans that have not yet been operated and that were originally filed before 10.26UTC- EUROCONTROL (@eurocontrol) April 3, 2018
We greatly regret the inconvenience caused to passengers throughout Europe, however, safety is our number one priority at all times. We are working hard to ensure that the network returns to normal operations in the coming hours.- EUROCONTROL (@eurocontrol) April 3, 2018
As of 15:20 UTC, we have reopened access to your flow management system while remaining in the Contingency procedure mode. This is the next step to restore the normal operations of Network Manager, which is expected later tonight.- EUROCONTROL (@eurocontrol) April 3, 2018