New Delhi: At 12.21 pm on Friday, when 24 aeroplanes were either preparing for takeoff or circling above in landing sequence, the Delhi airport radar went blank. The blackout lasted 30 minutes leading to a massive scare. Dispatch News Desks reports.
DG CA Arun Mishra informed the press, “I have asked the Airports Authority of India to submit a report stating the cause for this power disruption triggering the radar failure… Power supply to the server controlling the radars in the air traffic control (ATC) office was disrupted. It lasted for about 30 minutes. Fortunately not many flights were affected mid-air as it happened at 12.21 pm.” That is the arrival time for several international flights to the Capital. As an emergency measure, the ATC had to resort to manual operations. “The ATC operators were clearing the flights without even seeing the aircraft,” said an insider.
There was a complete chaos as the radar failure caused loss of signals and communication with the pilots hovering above and those on the ground waiting to take to the runway. The technical glitch in the ATC is unprecedented and is a cause of concern. Reasons behind the breakdown were being investigated. The incident has once again exposed the disaster-prone fragile control system at the ATC.
“Both the auto tracking systems – auto track-2 and auto track-3 – had collapsed and it was for nine minutes the screens were blank without signs of restoring the pictures back… this only hints at the systems’ redundancy as both the tracking systems should not blip at the same time,” said a senior DGCA official. “We had to direct the pilots midair to divert the flights in different pockets away from Capital’s air space. This continued for almost 20 minutes before the arrivals were allowed at Delhi airport,” said a senior ATC officer.
Delhi airport is the busiest in the country as it handles almost 35% of the flights daily and about 30-35 flights are handled by the ATC every hour. About 650-700 flights land and depart from Capital’s domestic and international airports.
Last month, a similar blackout caused by radar failure had disrupted flights operations in Kolkata for about 45 minutes and it caused a panic both on ground and mid-air as many flights were affected due to the breakdown.