There was panic at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI) on Saturday following an Air Traffic Control (ATC) radar failure. About 40 flights were delayed, creating a backlog that led to acute congestion in the air and serious safety concerns.
The problem started when one of the three radars of the ATC started malfunctioning. It took 45 minutes to fix it, but that was enough to throw the entire air traffic to and from IGI airport off gear. Two international flights were also delayed for four hours. The Director-General of Civil Aviation asked all aircraft to carry extra fuel. The reason: they might have to hover above the airport as runways were clogged.
Gasping for breath in mid-air
JetLite passengers heaved a sigh of relief after a Kolkata-bound flight (S2705) made an emergency landing at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport late Friday night.
Around 137 passengers and members of the cabin crew were suffocated after the flight’s cabin pressurisation (which maintains a constant temperature inside the aircraft) failed, forcing the pilot to take a U-turn. The flight took off at 10.35 pm and returned at 11.30 pm. A passenger told HT, "I wore the oxygen mask but felt nauseous after a while."
The backlog could not be cleared till late Saturday evening. Almost all airlines suffered a delay of one-two hours.
Air safety, too, was a casualty. “The radar failure could have led to mishaps in the air. The failure of the service radar meant that position of the aircraft could not be displayed on the screen and ATC officials could not have alerted pilots about any untoward situation immediately. The officials could communicate only through radio signals,” said a senior airport official.
Airport officials said that after the service radar tripped, there was a backlog of about six hours at the airport and mostly the flights operating from the domestic terminal were hit.
“ATC has three radars and we also have a backup option. To avoid any untoward situation, it had to increase the distance between two aircraft from 5 to 10 nautical miles,” added the official. “By evening, the situation turned worse. We had to stay air-borne for 45 minutes before we could land,” said a Deccan Airlines official.