This weekend, thousands of travelers were left stranded at London’s Heathrow airport, a result that occurred because British Airway’s computer system crashed.
British Airways denied the system crash was a result of a cyber attack. Instead, an airline representative issued a statement saying they believed the crash happened as a result of a power outage.
The outage affected a number of travelers, including anyone flying BA from various airports all over the world.
In the end, the company issued a statement asking travelers to refrain from coming over to the airport. With the computer systems down, there was really no way of tracking down a customer’s booking.
Large data systems like flight bookings and updates are powered by a specially-designed piece of hardware. Usually these systems include a powerful chip called an FPGA. High-end FPGA are used in dynamic systems like airline bookings. An FPGA can process large amounts of data in a matter of seconds. The added benefits included low latency and low power usage.
An FPGA is specially useful in a flight booking system. Updates and changes are made constantly. Plus a system has to keep track of overbooked, delayed, and cancelled flights, rearrange passenger itineraries and limit the occurrence of a possible double booking.
This weekend, BA has been accused of being vague about the problem. Many passengers were never informed of the issue, and found out about the cancellations through news sources, and not directly through the airline.
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