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Saturday, November 8, 1997 Published at 08:31 GMT

Despatches: Europe
Stephen Fleay
From Amsterdam

One of the world's major airlines, KLM of the Netherlands, has launched a full scale attack on the so-called millennium bug. The Dutch carrier has said some of its aircraft might have to be grounded on January 1, 2000, as all of their computer systems are likely to fail. This would make certain routes, possibly to third world countries, unsafe, especially if interlinking computer systems such as air traffic control and radar have not been upgraded. Stephen Fleay reports from Amsterdam:

"KLM, the worlds oldest airline says it's waging a full-scale battle against the millennium bug. One of its main computer systems has already been modified as part of a Millennium Compliance Programme. Early computers left out the 19 in the year in order to conserve memory space so software in all the systems will recognise the year 2000 as 1900, making unmodified computers ineffective. This millennium bug is already proving to be the worst nightmare for millions of PC users but on many of the worlds major airline routes crashed computer systems could seriously jepordize safety if radar systems and air traffic control become ineffective. KLM says if it can't control the whole chain of transport by the year 2000 then affected routes will not be flown and some of its fleet of 120 aircraft will be grounded. The Dutch airline, which also fears its telephone system might become inoperative, has set up a special Millennium Office to co-ordinate the changeover to the year 2000 and hopefully eliminate the millennium bug once and for all.

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