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UK aviation regulator to review air traffic control failure

 Britain’s civil aviation regulator said on Wednesday it would undertake an independent review of the circumstances surrounding an air traffic control failure last week that caused widespread disruption to flights and left thousands of passengers stranded.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the review would also consider the response of NATS, the country’s air traffic control provider, which has apologised for the failure.

“If there is evidence to suggest NATS may have breached its statutory and licensing obligations we will consider whether any further action is necessary,” Rob Bishton, Joint-Interim Chief Executive at the UK’s CAA, said in a statement.

Following the August 28 incident around 1,500 flights were cancelled, leaving thousands of passengers stuck at airports overseas during a busy travel period and public holiday in parts of Britain.

The head of NATS said this type of problem would not be repeated.

The regulator said NATS had provided its preliminary report which blamed an anomaly that forced the system to stop processing flight plans.

Air traffic controllers then closed the system to maintain safety and switched to manual operation to continue service.

The CAA, Britain’s independent aviation and aerospace regulator, said it had shared analysis this with the government on Monday and outlined its next steps.

“The CAA agrees with the NATS statement that at no stage did this incident represent a safety concern,” the regulator said in a letter to transport minister Mark Harper.

The regulator said the event was now understood and, if it happened again, should be fixed quickly with no effect to the aviation system.

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