‘Irregular software occurrence’ caused western ATC issues

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4 October 2018 | 0

The Irish Aviation Authority has said that after a thorough investigation, it has attributed the air traffic control (ATC) issues in western airspace on 2 October to “an irregular software occurrence”.

The outage in the primary Air Traffic Control (ATC) system in Ballycasey, County Clare resulted in flight disruption for Cork, Shannon and Knock airports.

According to a statement, the IAA said that technical experts and the system manufacturer had worked tirelessly to identify the issue, research, isolate and to resolve the matter. A resolution was implemented on the night of night 3 – 4 October, with the service transferred back to the primary system and restored to full capacity.

The IAA said it continues to provide a full service to airlines and passengers.

The statement sought to clarify that the issue was not a radar outage, and that full radar coverage had been maintained throughout.

The technical issue, said the authority, involved a module in the ATC system which affected the performance of this system. IAA said it took the decision to move to its back-up systems in order to maintain a full and safe service to aircraft.

“The IAA must follow a regulatory procedure when transferring to the back-up system. This procedure ensures safety of operations; however it necessitated the restrictions on traffic flow which occurred on Tuesday evening,” said the statement.

The back-up system is a full replica of the main ATC system, said the authority, which allowed it to provide a full and normal, safe ATC service once transfer to this system was completed.

The incident is reminiscent of another from 2008 in Dublin, when the airport was shut down after ATC periodically lost plane tracking for up to 10 minutes at a time, resulting in flights being rerouted across Europe, causing massive delays.

The problem was traced to a faulty network card that caused the system, built by Thales, to overload.

While no further clarification was given around the irregular software issue, the IAA said it continues to invest in its state-of-the-art air traffic management system and in the development of our staff, to deliver a world-class service to our airline customers.

 

TechCentral Reporters

 

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