Delta Outage Shows Vulnerabilities of Airline Industry

Delta Outage Shows Vulnerabilities of Airline Industry

Early Monday morning, travelers flying with Delta were frustrated and angry to see mass cancellations and hours long delays leaving them stranded at airports around the world. While some were able to avoid the airport altogether, others had already boarded their aircraft and were waiting for takeoff when a power outage knocked out Delta’s computers.

This isn’t the first time this year that this has happened, just a few weeks ago Southwest had a very similar problem that resulted in the cancellation of 2,300 flights and the delay of about 7,000 more flights over three days.

The whole industry is now under scrutiny, critic raising questions about the reliability of the computer systems put in place by two of the biggest airlines.

Southwest was able to determine that their computers failed due to a faulty router and Delta is still trying to figure out what caused their system-meltdown on Tuesday morning. Early indications suggest a piece of equipment known as a “switchgear” might have failed, knocking out computer networks worldwide.

Airlines rely on their computer systems to do everything from make reservations and seat assignments to determine how much fuel and snacks to board onto a plane. It is obvious that this network equipment (sometimes decades old) is a real vulnerability to flights worldwide.

Not only could the old equipment make worldwide system meltdown unpredictable it also makes them more frequent. A side effect of decades old equipment is its susceptibility to being hacked by someone with malicious intents.

Delta has publically said that they are in the process of rebuilding their core technologies, but the equipment isn’t regulated by the FAA leaving room for mistakes.

It looks like the airlines have a lot of decisions to make before they can say their technology systems are as reliable as their aircrafts.

Posted by Sydny Shepard on Aug 09, 2016

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