Coming from the guy who wrote the Cyberthreat Assessment for the National Airspace System, it would not surprise me if this story is true.
A major breakdown in Southern California’s air traffic control system last week was partly due to a “design anomaly” in the way Microsoft Windows servers were integrated into the system, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. The radio system shutdown, which lasted more than three hours, left 800 planes in the air without contact to air traffic control, and led to at least five cases where planes came too close to one another, according to comments by the Federal Aviation Administration reported in the LA Times and The New York Times. Air traffic controllers were reduced to using personal mobile phones to pass on warnings to controllers at other facilities, and watched close calls without being able to alert pilots, according to the LA Times report. The failure was ultimately down to a combination of human error and a design glitch in the Windows servers brought in over the past three years to replace the radio system’s original Unix servers, according to the FAA. The servers are timed to shut down after 49.7 days of use in order to prevent a data overload, a union official told the LA Times.
My Linux box in the basement has been up for several hundred days.