Thousands of air passengers around the world were left stranded last Monday after a power cut in Atlanta caused Delta to suspend flights across the US, Japan, Italy and the UK. Flights resumed six hours later but more than 740 flights had been cancelled and delays persisted as the backlog of passengers was cleared. Had it not been for the media focus on Rio 2016, Delta could have found itself attracting a great deal of negative coverage.
More details have now emerged about how a single, localised power outage brought down business critical IT systems around the world for a period of hours. Yesterday, Delta’s COO, Giles West was quoted as saying “Monday morning a critical power control module at our Technology Command Center malfunctioned, causing a surge to the transformer and a loss of power, when this happened, critical systems and network equipment didn’t switch over to backups.” It is a familiar story to anybody working in the field of business continuity, but another powerful reminder of the need for robust end-to-end testing of IT DR.
It is also interesting to note that this is only the latest example of IT issues disrupting air travel:
- A router problem led to the cancellation of more than 2,000 Southwest Airlines flights last month;
- Network connectivity issues caused widespread disruptions for United Airlines in July 2015; and
- American Airlines flights were disrupted by connectivity issues in September 2015 and by a software glitch in April 2015.