Kolkata airport radar develops snag, flights hit

The radar of the Air Traffic Control at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport here stopped functioning, leaving the monitors which detect the planes blank, following a major technical snag and the entire flight operation was halted for two hours on Thursday.

“ At 6:55 pm, the radar which captures the movement of the flights developed some technical problem and the monitors went blank. Flight operation was suspended for more than two hours and the problem was addressed around 9:15 pm,” a senior airport official said.

“ During this period, one Jet Airways plane was diverted to Bangladesh and two planes - one belonging to Air India and another to Indigo - were diverted to Bhubaneswar,” the official said.

“Some flights which were supposed to land at the airport could not land and were asked to hover over the sky as an emergency measure which resulted in air traffic jam,” the official added.

“At 9:15 pm, however, the glitch was addressed and things started to get normal. At present, the situation is well under control,” the official said.

Sources said there could have been a major disaster as many flights – other than those scheduled to land or had taken off from the airport – use the route.

With the monitors going blank, had two aircraft taken the same height, there could have been a major problem.

The same thing happened on September 24 during President Pratibha Patil’s flight to Aizawl when the airport’s west radar went off for five minutes shortly after take-off.

The aircraft took off at 10:57 am and the radar tripped around 11:07am. It took five minutes to connect the flight to the east radar, during which time the plane was off radar. “This is a recurring problem in Kolkata airport and it is sheer luck that there has been no major disaster,” another senior official said.

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