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Baggage Problem Hits Heathrow Terminal 5

Yet Another Computer Issue?

1 min read
Baggage Problem Hits Heathrow Terminal 5

Last year, London's Healthrow Airport Terminal 5 (T5) suffer from computer problems with its baggage system that caused massive disruptions for British Airways (BA) passengers. It took several months but the computer problems were eventually solved.

Things have been relative quiet at T5 until this weekend, when a supposed "mechanical failure" with the baggage system for 90 minutes caused up to 5,000 BA passengers to be stranded. Things are back to normal today, but those who were left stranded are an unhappy lot, even though BA "apologized" for their inconvenience.

Turns out that BA decided to fly its planes without passengers, rather than to delay or cancel any of its flights. In fact, the standed passengers were viewed as a "backlog" problem by a BA spokesperson,

“We haven’t cancelled any flights – the flights have still gone on – but it has created a backlog of passengers who have been unable to check in their baggage.”

Hmm, so stranded passengers are now considered merely "backlogs." Nice.

A report in NetworkWorld says that BAA, the airport's operator, who claimed initially over the weekend that the T5 problem was a mechanical-only related fault, is now backing off that statement and is not entirely ruling out an IT fault as the primary cause. According to the Daily Mail,

"Problems started when the electronic barcode system on the luggage conveyor belt could not process the large volume of luggage arriving from international passengers transferring at Heathrow."

Baggage volume was also orignally blamed last year for T5's baggage system's meltdown, before BA admitted that there were IT-related problems.

If the "mechanical fault" does turn out to be another IT problem, BA can expect another round of bad publicity, and the need to apologize a few more times to its passengers.

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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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