Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport suffered a scare on Tuesday evening after the Air Traffic Control faced technical glitches causing a flight safety nightmare. The ‘technical snag’ was eventually fixed after at it nearly brought the IGI operations down to its knees for at least a couple of hours. At a time when the capital is on high alert, such an incident raises concerns among fliers and the general public, but official sources confirmed it was not a sabotage or cyber attack on the ATC infrastructure.
After the glitch occurred, the ATC was unable to obtain details of flights appearing on the the ATC radar and hence it turned into a dangerous scenario as the frequency of flight operations — departure and arrival — at the IGI Airport averages at around a takeoff or landing every 2 minutes. The ATC radioed all approaching flights to maintain a distance of five minutes between their approach to the airport and similar for takeoffs.
Senior officials from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security said the contingency plans for every scenario are in place, but tackling them is a tense operation. Quashing fears of air attacks on the airport, officials added the “Indian Air Force stations at Agra and Hindon are our lines of defence and apart from our own monitoring systems they diligently monitor any unauthorised aircraft in civilian airspace or otherwise”.
In a worst case scenario, if the ATC is unable to coordinate takeoffs and landings then it resorts to diverting all flights to nearby airports. At around 9 pm on Tuesday, IGI authorities requested all airports to delay flights to Delhi so that the issue can be resolved and the long delays can be cleared.
Officials said the possibility of cyber attacks on the ATC are nearly zero as they are “closed network secured systems” and apart from the near impossible chances of internal sabotage, the issues arise out of inevitable technical difficulties” adding that “still, a major snag like this is a red flag for the busiest airport in the country.”
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