THE OPENING OF the new en route air-traffic-control centre for England and Wales has been delayed until December 1997, says the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

The £350 million ($530 million) Swanwick Centre, near Fareham, Hampshire, has been plagued by problems with integrating the air-traffic-management system's 2 million lines of software, which are needed to operate 23 subsystems.

Derek McLauchlan, chief executive of the CAA's National Air Traffic Services (NATS), says that he is "very disappointed", but, while it would be "...greatly desirable to keep on schedule", NATS also has to "...give way to the absolute imperative of maintaining safety standards".

McLauchlan declines to say how much the delay will cost, but he says that this will be "manageable within existing budgets". He says that Loral, as prime contractor, will not face penalty clauses, but "...will not receive payment until the system passes a series of tests".

The technical problems stem from some of the software being incompatible with the computers.

The CAA will have to upgrade several systems at the London Area & Terminal Control Centre at West Drayton, London, to cope with increased traffic levels.

Source: Flight International