Monday, November 29, 1999

Mumbai ATC goes blind for 21 minutes

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Mumbai, June 17 (PTI) For 21 minutes on June 15, the Air Traffic Control at the Mumbai airport lost all contact with 19 aircraft either in the air or readying for take-off after a power cable got snapped during digging near the runway, in a major technical breakdown fraught with danger. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation and Mumbai International Airport Limited, which is modernising and developing the city airport, have instituted an inquiry into the incident, sources told PTI here today. A 4-member probe team from Airports Authority of India (AAI) has already completed its investigation into the blackout incident and submitted its report to the Member (Operations), sources said. "There was a total blackout and the radar screen at the ATC went blank for 21 miniutes precisely, making the controllers almost blind-folded," sources said. An underground power cable got snapped during the digging close to the runway resulting in a short circuit. Compounding the problem, the Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) system also tripped, they said. The VHF communications system, which works on battery sets, also failed to work after the UPS tripped, sources said. Consequently, flight operations were hit, sources said, adding there were 4 flights in the landing process while 15 were readying for departure when the incident had happened. When contacted, a spokperson for Mumbai International Airport Limited said it has set up an inquiry.

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