Author Topic: Spy Plane Fries Air Traffic Control Computers, Shuts Down LAX  (Read 282 times)

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Offline Machiavelli

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Andrew Blankstein
NBC News
May 2, 2014

A relic from the Cold War appears to have triggered a software glitch at a major air traffic control center in California Wednesday that led to delays and cancellations of hundreds of flights across the country, sources familiar with the incident told NBC News.

On Wednesday at about 2 p.m., according to sources, a U-2 spy plane, the same type of aircraft that flew high-altitude spy missions over Russia 50 years ago, passed through the airspace monitored by the L.A. Air Route Traffic Control Center in Palmdale, Calif. The L.A. Center handles landings and departures at the region’s major airports, including Los Angeles International (LAX), San Diego and Las Vegas.

The computers at the L.A. Center are programmed to keep commercial airliners and other aircraft from colliding with each other. The U-2 was flying at 60,000 feet, but the computers were attempting to keep it from colliding with planes that were actually miles beneath it.

« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 12:55:06 PM by Machiavelli »

Offline EC

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Re: Spy Plane Fries Air Traffic Control Computers, Shuts Down LAX
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2014, 01:05:15 PM »

When the computers glitch, they glitch hard. They are SUPPOSED to ignore anything above 45,000 feet.
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Offline Oceander

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Re: Spy Plane Fries Air Traffic Control Computers, Shuts Down LAX
« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2014, 01:27:59 PM »
Sounds like there was a serious bug somewhere in the software that didn't surface until the system was stressed in a way the designers never thought to test it with.  slightly reminiscent of the Y2K problem - something that seemed reasonable at the time:  only referring to years by the last two digits because, after all, the year 2000 was, like, years away, suddenly became a big problem because the question of how dates should be represented was never revisited and new systems simply picked up that original assumption without ever questioning it.

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