New Zealand’s radar went on the blink yesterday – but it was a long blink and it grounded hundreds of flights. In what was described as “an extremely rare event”, pilots lost all radar communication.
Air traffic control systems rely heavily on radar. The outage forced pilots to consult an emergency procedure manual or aeronautical information publication contained in all cockpits, an air traffic control spokesperson told Fairfax in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s Airways Corporation, which runs the country’s radar system, insisted that “at no point was the safety of any airport operations compromised”. In an issued statement, it said the problem had been identified and the integrity of the system had now been thoroughly tested.
When the glitch was finally fixed yesterday afternoon, Auckland Airport tweeted that flights would resume, with international flights having priority. Delays were expected.
Air New Zealand said about 160 of its international and domestic flights were disrupted and although flights were departing yesterday afternoon, the backlog would take “some time” to clear.
Jetstar cancelled a number of flights and passengers were stranded at various points around the country. Many travellers were trying to arrange overnight accommodation.
Some flights were reported on the tarmac with passengers aboard, waiting for the radar to be fixed so they could take off.
Passengers generally agreed that they would rather be on the ground without radar than in the air without radar.
Written by Peter Needham