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Breakdown of air traffic control system causes delays

Date Posted: 2003-03-08

A breakdown of the national air traffic control system last weekend caused flight delays affecting more than 273,000 passengers.

The Mar. 1 computer malafunctions caused the delay of 1,324 flights nationwide, while another 192 flight were cancelled altogether. In Okinawa nine flights were cancelled and 139 flights were delayed, affecting 28,000 passengers. Most flights were delayed for more than four hours.

This was the fourth time the air traffic control system had broken down, but officials at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport admit that this was the worst, by far.

Many passengers vented their frustration at the airports. A traveler enroute from Naha Airport to Tokyo said he was going to miss a wedding party in Tokyo, and that the whole thing was stupid. “Why don’t they have a back-up system? Whoever designed the system was plain stupid for not installing a parallel system that could be used if one system fails. That’s a national shame,” the man fumed.

According to ministry officials, the main computer of the system failed when technicians were installing some new programs into the system. They say that investigation to the exact cause of the computer crash still continues.

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