IAA investigating ‘technical issue’ that shut down airport radar

Authority director apologises after travel disruptions in Cork and Shannon airports

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has ‘taken all actions necessary’. Photograph: Arthur Ellis/Press22

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has ‘taken all actions necessary’. Photograph: Arthur Ellis/Press22

 

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) are investigating the technical issue that temporarily shut down radar at Shannon and Cork airports last night.

Radar was shut down at both airports in what was ‘likely a software issue’, says the Commercial, Technology and Training director of the IAA, Philip Hughes.

But he said the exact problem will not be known until an investigation is completed, and that the back up system can remain in place for as long as necessary.

Mr Hughes told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that it was not a question of the equipment being old as Ireland has one of the most modern air traffic control systems in Europe.

“The equipment is relatively new and well maintained and updated frequently.”

He explained that the IAA has a comprehensive back up plan so that safety is maintained throughout any technical incidents. At this stage the cause of last night’s problem is still under investigation.

“It could be a relatively simple problem.”

Mr Hughes apologised to any people who were delayed because of the technical issue.

“A handful of flights were affected in Shannon and Cork, they were all dealt with. It was relatively quiet last night. The busiest part is after midnight.”

There were very few overflights (flights to and from other countries that fly over Ireland but are monitored by the IAA when in Irish air space) during the time that the radar was down, most of them are after midnight, said Mr Hughes.

At all times the IAA was coordinating with other air traffic control centres in neighbouring countries where a network operates in such circumstances, he said.

“It is highly rare to have this kind of problem.”

‘Back to normal’

The managing director of Shannon Airport says that services are back to normal this morning following Tuesday night’s problems with the flight radar system that services Shannon, Cork and Knock airports.

Andrew Murphy advised the public to keep up to date on social media and to check their flight details as there will be some delays.

However, he pointed out that the system being used is a back-up which is allowing a phased resumption of take-offs and landings.

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has taken all actions necessary, he said and safety was a paramount concern.

He said that they became aware of the problem at 7.30pm Tuesday when informed by the high level radar centre that there was an issue with radar cover. It did not impact Dublin airport which operates a separate system.

“They (IAA) kept us up to date on their back up plans.”

Mr Murphy explained that four inbound flights were affected, but that after delays of one to two hours all landed safely. Two departures were also affected.

This morning’s transatlantic arrivals were on schedule while UK departures were also expected to depart, however, there could be delays, he added.

The airport said flights from Heathrow, Manchester and Krakow had all landed on Tuesday night. Flights had earlier been suspended because of the problems with flight radar.