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Grounded Flights and Long Delays Caused by Windows 3.1 Glitch

Grounded Flights and Long Delays Caused by Windows 3.1 Glitch
Joe Cortez

Unique glitch in Windows 3.1 credited for grounding flights at Paris Orly Airport.

A computer glitch related to air traffic control software running on Windows 3.1 may have been to blame for the grounding of flights at Paris Orly Airport (ORY) earlier this month. British trade magazine ITPro reports the grounding of flights were pinned on the DECOR system, which is running on the outdated version of the Windows operating system.

The situation began on Saturday, November 7, when the system originally broke down. The DECOR system is built to provide weather and visibility information to pilots, including Runway Visual Range information. When the system went down and fog began rolling in, the airport decided to close their runways for an hour in an abundance of safety. Inbound flights were diverted to nearby Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG). The secretary general of a French air traffic control union pinned the problem on a lack of knowledge of the outdated system.

“The issue with a system that old is that people don’t like to do maintenance work,” Alexandre Fiacre, secretary general of the UNSA-IESSA air traffic controller union, told Vice News. “Furthermore, we are starting to lose the expertise [to deal] with that type of operating system. In Paris, we have only three specialists who can deal with DECOR-related issues.”

Affected by the grounded flights were French politicians Alain Juppé and Eric Ciotti, who were both scheduled to speak at conventions in Paris. Juppé later tweeted his regrets, saying in French: “Shame! I had prepared a good speech.”

The French Transportation Ministry issued a statement shortly after the grounding incident, vowing to have the air traffic control system upgraded by 2017. However, Fiacre told Vice News that he does not expect the system to improve until 2021 at the earliest.

[Photo: Wikipedia]

View Comments (5)


  1. celsius1939

    November 16, 2015 at 3:21 am

    This is one of the funniest posts I have read in a very long time. Competent programmers could have fixed this in a very short time. We seem to be faced with modern “coders” who are poorly trained(consider Obobocare).

  2. weero


    November 16, 2015 at 6:56 am

    … because system controlled by Windows CE or Windows 8 do not crash …

  3. chris19992


    November 16, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    It’s not that they don’t crash, it’s that there are more people who can actually work newer OS’s compared to the relics like 3.1

  4. Mike Jacoubowsky

    November 16, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    Amusing to think how many of us update to newer versions of software because we’re told we’d otherwise be exposed to vulnerabilities and lack of support, because that’s such a big issue when doing nothing but web browsing and checking email. But for someone using a computer where its failure would be very costly indeed, they adopt an “If it ain’t broke, don’t fit it” approach until there’s nobody left who knows how it works.

  5. robsaw

    November 16, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    You don’t just jump in and start re-coding flight-safety related software. We don’t even know if it was a coding problem or something in the underlying OS calls, or even in the hardware that runs the system. “Computer glitch” isn’t exactly a precise term.

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