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Pax mill at airports as immigration computer crashes

May 23, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

Queues lengthened and hundreds of international passengers milled around airports in Australia and New Zealand yesterday after the Advanced Passenger Processing system (APP) crashed.

The system is used by both countries during check-in to confirm passengers are allowed to proceed to their destination.

The outage was fixed later yesterday morning after a barrage of comments on social media, accompanied by photos of passengers waiting in long lines.

“Nobody able to check-in at Sydney Airport,” passenger Chris Walker-Bush tweeted. “Nobody. I’ve never seen lines this long in an airport.”

By late morning Melbourne Airport advised. “Update: The Advanced Passenger Processing system is now back online and all airlines are now able to process check-in.”

The airport also noted: “Delays may take a while to work through the system.”

Immigration officers switched to manual back-up systems during the outage, using processes that were standard at airports about 15 years ago.

International flights were reported to be departing about 30 minutes late from Sydney and up to 45 minutes late from Melbourne.

The APP crash came after much recent news about computer glitches and vulnerabilities, with a global ransomware epidemic earlier this month spreading to tens of thousands of computers in about 100 countries. See: Global ransomware attack taste of things to come?

News also arrived that a Qantas captain is still locked in a legal battle almost nine years after a rogue air-data computer aboard an Airbus A330 “went psycho” and sent the plane into two violent uncontrolled nosedives. See: Years after computer flip-out, Qantas captain fights on

Regarding APP, Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection says:

All international flights to and from Australia are subject to mandatory Advance Passenger Processing (APP) reporting provided by airlines through the APP system. 

This facilitates a more streamlined border clearance process for travellers and enhances the Australian Government’s ability to target security concerns. 

Completing APP checks enables airlines to meet the Australian Government’s APP reporting requirements and those of other governments, and to confirm whether a passenger or crew has authority to travel to Australia. Check-in manuals are available to assist airlines with processing travellers. 

Airlines that do not report a passenger or crew member may be subject to an infringement of AUD 1800 per person in lieu of prosecution.

Written by Peter Needham

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