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Computer memory shortage caused air traffic system failure

April 30 incident in LA area resulted in many flights being delayed or cancelled

[NEW YORK] A common design problem in the US air traffic control system made it possible for a U-2 spy plane to spark a computer glitch that recently grounded or delayed hundreds of Los Angeles area flights, according to an inside account and security experts.

In theory, the same vulnerability could have been used by an attacker in a deliberate shut-down, the experts said, though two people familiar with the incident said it would be difficult to replicate the exact conditions.

The error blanked out a broad swath of the southwestern United States, from the West Coast to western Arizona and from southern Nevada to the Mexico border.

As aircraft flew through the region, the US$2.4 billion system made...

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