While the Airports Authority of India (AAI) asserted that “there was no disruption or delay of flight operations on account of this,” airport sources admitted that arrivals and departures of flights were disrupted for about 30 minutes when the systems collapsed between 5.50 pm and 6.20 pm.
Over 50 incoming and outgoing flights were disrupted. No incoming flights were diverted as they were asked to hover around Delhi till landing.
On the sudden development, the AAI said: “The ATC computer system Auto Track III which is under validation trials at IGI Airport, developed a technical snag at 5.50 pm. However, the other computer system Auto Track II which was maintained as hot stand-by, was used for ATC operations.” The radar that crashed helps in tracking aircraft movements.
The scheduled trial run was on the new Auto-Track III software, which faced similar glitches on July 24. The Auto-Track III at Delhi airport was being inducted as the replacement of the older version that failed on January 14.
The AAI was advised to review the existing software and applications. This is the third time this year that the air traffic management system at the airport collapsed. In the past two such instances—on January 14 and 26 this year—the ATC had to switch over to the “manual procedure” to maintain vertical and horizontal separation between aircraft and to enable them to land or takeoff.
At that time, the incident happened during peak-hour traffic and the system had taken almost one hour to be rectified, leading to severe congestion over the Delhi airspace.