19 September 2008

Dublin Airport Radar could fail again

According to the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) a computer failure that caused a huge air traffic chaos at Dublin Airport this summer could happen again.

Thousands of passengers were grounded as airlines had to cancel, divert or delay scores of flights in July when a malfunction occurred at the air transport hub's radar system (photo).
Problems began when codes, which identify incoming aircraft, vanished from the computer screens of Ireland's air traffic controllers.

The capacity at Dublin Airport, which handles about 600 flights on a normal day, was halved for almost three days until engineers declared the system safe again.

In its report into the Air Traffic Management (ATM) system malfunction, the IAA says that it "cannot rule out the possibility of future failures of the system".

Now, that is good news for the environment, as well as a telling insight into the ways our Celtic banana republic function (or not).

"Worldwide, air navigation service providers cannot rule out the possibility of failures of ATM systems, which regularly occur," says the report. But the IAA is "confident that the measures recommended by the system supplier Thales ATM - and now being implemented - will "minimise the effect of a recurrence of like or similar failures of its ATM system in the future," a spokeswoman explained.

The investigation has found that the system in Dublin operated without failure since it was commissioned in 2004. But then, on June 2nd, 2008, identification data for flights entering the system disappeared from the screens.
Similar malfunctions were reported for short periods on June 4th, June 10th, July 2nd and July 9th, when air traffic controllers lost confidence in the system and shut it down.

Engineers later found that the cause of the problem was a "faulty network interface card" - a hardware device attached to the air traffic controller's computer system - and the failure of the local area network recovery mechanism.

One wonders why despite such incidents, malfunctions and the ever more ridiculous rules and restrictions invented to make airline passengers' lives difficult and uncomfortable - not even to mention the multi-fold of hidden extra costs, fees and taxes - there are still so many people in Ireland and everywhere willing to fly. Personally I don't, and since I made that decision, my life and my travels are a lot more enjoyable.

The Emerald Islander

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