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A Tui plane was involved in a 'serious incident' after every passenger with the title 'Miss' was classified as a child.
An investigation has now confirmed there was an IT glitch which caused the flight to depart from Birmingham Airport at a heavier weight than expected.
The aircraft, which was heading for the Spanish island of Majorca, had 187 passengers on board and the incident was classified as 'serious' by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).
An update to the airline's reservation system while its planes were grounded due to the coronavirus pandemic led to 38 passengers on the flight being allocated a child's 'standard weight' of 35kg as opposed to the correct figure of 69kg.
This caused the load sheet - produced for the captain to calculate what inputs are needed for take-off - to state the Boeing 737 was more than 1,200kg lighter than it actually was. Oops.
Investigators described the glitch as 'a simple flaw' in an IT system. According to reports, it was programmed in an unnamed foreign country where the title 'Miss' is actually used for a child and 'Ms' for an adult female.
Despite the issue, the thrust used for the departure from Birmingham on 21 July last year was only 'marginally less' than it should have been, and the 'safe operation of the aircraft was not compromised', the AAIB said.
The same fault caused two other Tui flights to take off from the UK with inaccurate load sheets later that day.
The system was adapted when the problem was first identified 11 days earlier, but this did not correct the weight entries for the 21 July flights.
The operator subsequently introduced manual checks on a daily basis to ensure adult females were referred to as Ms on relevant documentation.
Tui said in a statement: "The health and safety of our customers and crew is always our primary concern.
"Following this isolated incident, we corrected a fault identified in our IT system.
"As stated in the report, the safe operation of the flight was not compromised."
The travel company is hoping to get back to some form of normality in the coming weeks and welcomed the UK government's plans for international travel to reopen under a new traffic light system.
Andrew Flintham, managing director for Tui UK and Ireland told BBC Breakfast: "We are all trying to reopen the UK, the economy, and travel is an intrinsic part of that.
"So we are looking for some really clear guidelines so we welcome the traffic light system. We think it will give us some clear rules to work with and also it will make it obvious what data is driving what decisions."
Mr Flintham said the company was gearing up to restart and added: "All our teams are getting ready for restart, we believe and we hope the 17th [of May] will be possible.
"We think with the amazing vaccine programme and the greater provision of testing, we think we should be able to get going."
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