The collapse of the check-in system at Delhi airport’s Terminal 3, on June 29 — which delayed more than 50 flights — could have been caused by a virus attack.
On June 29, 2011, a technical snag in the check-in system of Terminal 3 led to flight delays of 30 min to one hour, as airlines had to manually check-in passengers. The problem first surfaced at 3am and took unusually long — 12 hours — to be fixed.
According to sources at the airport, the initial investigation into the cause of the glitch hints at a ‘malicious virus attack’ on the system. The team investigating the incident is trying to find the source of the virus attack.
Immediately after the problem occurred, a joint team of ARINC, the US-based company that has installed the system, WIPRO’s IT engineers and the IT team of private airport operator Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) started working on restoring the system.
“The first priority was to rectify the glitch and get the system up and running,” said an official who is part of the investigation. “The probe was initiated immediately after the system stabilised.”
“There was an infusion in the backend server of the system, caused by a malicious virus attack,” said the official. “Those who were logged in at that time managed to work on the system, even as other counters couldn’t be operated. However, as the system got corrupted, those who tried to log in later couldn’t do so,” he said.
When contacted, senior officials of ARINC refused to either confirm or deny that a virus was behind the collapse of the check in system.
“There was an outage on June 29 and the investigations are on but it would be inappropriate to comment on that at the moment,” said Jim Martin, managing director, Asia-Pacific Operations, ARINC. Martin, however, said that the investigators are pretty close to what the cause of the outage was and that the system logs are being examined, at present.
The glitch had affected the Common User Terminal Equipment (CUTE) software, which helps streamline the reservation system and facilitates the checking-in of passengers of individual airlines from a common terminal.
The check-in system of T3 had also failed on December 17, 2010, leading to delays.