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PAPER NOTES FILL IN FOR AIR-TRAFFIC COMPUTER

Air-traffic controllers used handwritten notes to keep track of hundreds of planes over New England and upstate New York when a computer failed, the Boston Globe reported today.

The problem at the Boston Center in Nashua, N.H., began Wednesday at about 6:50 p.m., one of the busiest times of the day, and lasted for 37 minutes, the Globe said.

Blips on radar screens showed the approximately 75 controllers there were about 300 planes in the air, but their altitude, speed, routes and destinations were wiped out by the computer failure.

Controllers were able to reconstruct the lost information by asking pilots to identify their flights and by talking to controllers in New York.

The information was put back into the system manually, and Boston Center controllers wrote information about each flight on strips of papers and passed the notes from one controller to another.

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