Saturday, April 25, 2009


By the time the problem was rectified, four incoming flights were diverted to Chennai and other flights were delayed by 30 to 40 minutes

Chaos reigned at Bengaluru International Airport (BIA) for three hours, between 8.30 am and 11.25 am, on Friday morning after several flights were delayed or diverted following a snag in the radar equipment of the Air Traffic Control (ATC). While outgoing air travellers were stranded at the airport, those flying into the city ended up landing in Chennai following the flight diversions.
The flights diverted to Chennai were: Jet Airways flight 9W411 from Mumbai, 9W801 from Delhi, 9W532 from Chennai and Kingfisher flight IT 064 from Colombo.
According to the sources at the airport, the ATC radar developed a technical snag on Thursday night and it was decided to rectify the problem at night, when there are fewer flights coming in. The maintenance window was first 12.30 am to 5.30 am; later it was extended to 6.30 am and then 8.30 am. The problem remained unsolved and the maintenance window was once again extended to 11:25 am. This is when the flight schedules went awry as the 9 am-11 am slot is the peak period for flights.
“The ATC’s radar is crucial to aircraft movement. An aircraft cannot land until it has been given clearance by the ATC on the basis of the position of incoming flights on the radar screen. When flights come in together, a gap of four to five minutes is given between two flights. In case of an equipment malfunction, a gap of eight to 15 minutes is maintained. Today, even that
was not possible and the flights were diverted,” the sources said.
An ATC source said, “There have been problems with the radar since the equipment was installed. The ATC tower antenna had a problem. It is linked to two motors, one of which has to be disengaged while the other is engaged. But today, one
of the motors could not
be disengaged and this led to problems with the main system. The ATC personnel could not see the information like the relative position of aircraft on the screen. Finally, Italian engineers from the company that manufactured the equipment rectified the problem.”
When Bangalore Mirror contacted BIAL, a spokesperson said, “Operations at BIA were affected this morning between 5:30 am and 11:30 am due to the malfunction of the primary radar equipment. During this time, four flights were diverted to Chennai and several other flights (departing and arriving) were delayed by approximately 30 to 40 minutes. Operations have now resumed normalcy.”


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