European airports heading for millennium computer crash : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

May 23 1999 EUROPE European airports heading for millennium computer crash

by Stephen Bevan and Lois Jones

SOME of Europe's busiest airports and air traffic control centres have fallen seriously behind in their plans to deal with the millennium bug, the software problem that could bring computers worldwide grinding to a halt at the new year. A Sunday Times investigation has revealed that destinations such as the three main Paris airports, plus others in Spain, Italy, Romania and at Luton, may be unable to complete the work needed to eliminate the problem by the end of this year. Experts have predicted chaos and warned that passengers could be at risk.

The same airports are believed to feature in an "at risk" list being drawn up by the International Air Transport Association, the airlines' trade body. It is spending #12.5m on a study of 331 airports and 134 air traffic control centres around the world, but has provoked anger for refusing requests to reveal its findings - including one from the government.

Robin Guenier, executive director of Taskforce 2000, said: "There's a lot of fear that some airports and air traffic control centres are not going to be ready."

Luton has been pinpointed as the British airport giving greatest cause for concern. An insider said: "They've done very little," adding that the airport may have to close over the new year.

Barry Foord, Luton's systems and IT manager, said one third of the computer systems would be tested in situ, but the rest would not. The airport would rely on the manufacturers to guarantee that their equipment was millennium-compliant. He believed Luton would be safe.

Last week airports in Paris, Rome and Madrid admitted that they were far from resolving the problem. Naples, Italy's third-busiest airport, with 3.5m passengers a year, said it did not expect to complete the work until June next year.

Jacques Reder, spokesman for Airoports de Paris, which runs Orly, Charles de Gaulle and Le Bourget, said that it had tested 85% of its systems, but insisted that flaws would be resolved by the end of the year. Gary Miles, of PA Consulting, who has been working with companies all over the world, including BAA, the British airports authority, to resolve millennium bug problems, said the situation in Paris was worrying. "They really ought to be well into final testing."

In Spain, 30% of computer systems in the country's 40 airports and five air traffic control centres have yet to be tested. Antonio Villalon, manager of information systems at the Spanish civil aviation authority, said flaws had been found in software that processed the flight plans of aircraft. "There are a lot of other problems that we do not know about," he said.

Italy faces similar problems. Carlo Pietro Santi, a spokesman for Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport, said that a fifth of their software, controlling functions such as baggage reclaim, check-in facilities and flight information, had yet to be checked. He said that any work outstanding at the end of June would have to wait until the end of September. "We will not risk disrupting our computer systems during peak season," he said.

The Civil Aviation Authority has ordered inspections of all Boeing 727s after faults that could cause fuel tank explosions were found on American aircraft.

Additional reporting: Gabriel Milland, Nicholas Rigillo

-- Arlin H. Adams (, May 24, 1999



Thank you so much for your efforts to keep the latest news releases posted. This is why I first came to this web site in the first place i.e. to gather information necessary to present a convincing argument to my family, neighbors, coworkers, etc of the reality and urgency of this issue. Thank you again.

-- Morrighan (, May 24, 1999.

If you *must* fly during at least the first half of next year, I recommend you don't check any baggage you ever expect to see again.

-- Flint (, May 24, 1999.

Why is it that all the "bad" Y2K news I read concerning Europe seems to originate from the Sunday Times? I have to wonder whether they're on to something, or just on something.

-- Richard Dymond (, May 25, 1999.

Nahh, just maybe a little rebellious...

-- Andy (, May 25, 1999.

Richard -

The "bad news" comes in the Sunday Times for several reasons:

It is not from press releases in Washington that have been vetted by the standard Washington Press atiitude. The Sunday paper is larger, has more room for "analysis" articles, less "breaking" articles as in the middle of the week. the Sunday articles are set for a fixed time, so the article can be "preset" ahead of time, gives the writer more time to analyze and think about what is going on - since the reporter has more time, he/she can be more inquisitive, and so gets the real story, not just the superficial whitewash that somebody more pressed for time understands.

Most "bad" news Y2K stories are really already present in the "good news" stories released by the Fed's, you just have to read between the lines. For a Sunday story, the reporter has time to do that too.

-- Robert A. Cook, PE (Kennesaw, GA) (, May 25, 1999.

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