Air traffic 'glitch' grounds Sydney flights

Power outage of software crash, depending on who you listen to

Qantas Boeing 737-838, VH-VZR

Sydney airport was in chaos on the first Monday of the Australian state of New South Wales' spring school holidays, after air traffic controllers had to revert to manual operations.

Operations at Kingsford Smith airport were almost completely shut down from the time its curfew lifts (six in the morning) until after 10:00 today (September 25).

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's ABC Sydney blamed a system software issue, and said the software in question feeds flight plans into Airservices' radar.

The Guardian, however, put it down to a power outage.

Information boards at the airport told passengers the problem was an air traffic control radar failure.

Whatever the root cause, air traffic controllers had to revert to manual operations at the country's busiest airport on a high-traffic day. To cope, some international flights were allowed to land, but international and domestic departures were delayed or cancelled.

Airservice Australia, which provides air traffic control services to Australian airports, emitted three Tweets:

The last stated that the issue was addressed shortly before 10:00:

That last statement came quite some time after operations re-started: The Guardian said the “glitch” was overcome by 09:00.

That piece adds that manual operations limit the airport to 15 movements per hour; its usual maximum capacity is 80 movements per hour.

The problems cascaded to other Australian airports, where flights were either cancelled or delayed until they could be sure of landing. ®

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