Radar system crashes, flights disrupted

Radar system crashes, flights disrupted

New Delhi: Critical radar systems at the air traffic control (ATC) of Indira Gandhi International Airport failed after a technical glitch just when peak-hour traffic was building up on Thursday evening. The stoppage led to delayed flights.

“All the flights after 5pm that were supposed to take off were delayed for more than 1-1.5 hours," said a senior domestic airline official, who asked not to be identified. “It’s absolutely abnormal that a radar of a running airport goes down."

A Delhi International Airport Pvt. Ltd (DIAL) official, who also didn’t want to be named, said that at least 50 flights were disrupted as a result of the glitch. “Manual operation is on now, though ATC is saying the situation is back to normal," the DIAL official said.

The DIAL official said the approach lights to one runway were shut down, leaving another, newly-built runway to handle both take-offs and landings.

A top Airports Authority of India (AAI) official said that the glitch surfaced while some information was being uploaded onto the ATC systems. The systems had returned to normal by 7.30pm, and six departures and 27 arrivals had been cleared even during the stoppage, he added.

An inquiry will likely be conducted by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, said the AAI official, who declined to be named.

The disruption worsened the woes of travellers, who have already been struggling with delays and diversions caused by the thick fog that blankets the Capital in winters. On Tuesday and Wednesday, at least 50 flights were cancelled and 18 rescheduled because of low visibility, according to a DIAL statement.

“It is a sad reflection on our standard of workmanship when so many failures take place in what is claimed as a world-class airport," Chennai-based safety analyst Mohan Ranganthan said, adding that manual operations would delay flights even further.

In a similar incident at Tokyo’s Haneda airport on Thursday, at least 160 flights were disrupted after a computer glitch hit a new air radar system hours after it was installed, AFP reported.