For the fifth time this year, the radar system at Delhi airport’s air traffic control (ATC) developed a snag on Wednesday, disrupting flights.
The radar screens at the Delhi ATC went blank at 5.50 pm on Wednesday, after the software system that displays flight data crashed. The system was restored at 6.14 pm.
The ATC is using a new software, Autotrac III, on validation trial, which developed a snag and collapsed. ATC officials immediately switched over to the earlier system, Autotrac II.
At least 20 flights were directly affected during this period and about 50 flights were delayed by the backlog that ensued. The flight carrying British Prime Minister David Cameron also landed during this crisis period, at 6.10 pm. Sources at the airport said other flights were held back for a few minutes for the VIP flight. The Airports Authority of India (AAI), which handles air traffic at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), claimed that no flights were disrupted due to the radar system failure.
“The ATC Computer System, Auto Trac III, which is under validation trial at IGI Airport, developed a technical snag.
However, the other computer system, Auto Track II, which was maintained as stand-by, was being used for ATC operations,” a Civil Aviation Ministry spokesperson said.
“There was no disruption or delay in flight operations on account of this.”
An AAI spokesman said that such glitches are part of the validation process and the stand-by system was running simultaneously. “We have both the trial system and new system working in the same room. It took almost no time to switch from one to another after the screen froze,” he said.
He claimed that there were no disruptions due to the problem.
Senior airline officials, however, said that the snag during peak evening traffic hour led to cascading delays and also affected flights directly, till the system was brought back to normalcy.
“The problem is with the software system that processes data received from the radars,” said an ATC official who did not wish to be named.