Panic prevailed both off and on the ground due to a communication link failure at Kolkata airport while 85 aircraft were airborne within its airspace, after which the aviation regulator has asked for details of the incident.
Multiple radars and a vital VHF radio link went off line due to a glitch in the BSNL network at Kolkata airport early in the morning yesterday, a senior Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official said today.
The incident forced the Kolkata Air Traffic Control to approach the Nagpur and Varanasi ATCs to track the movement of aircraft and avoid of any untoward development.
The glitch in the BSNL network continued for close to two hours from 7.35 AM till 9.13 AM. During this period, there was no signal from four ADS-B (Automatic Dependence Surveillance-Broadcast) and four radars, the official said.
ADS-B is surveillance technology in which an aircraft determines its position via satellite navigation and periodically broadcasts it, enabling it to be tracked.
ATC reportedly lost contact with 85 airborne aircrafts for 10 minutes.
However, an official statement later said the ATC services at Kolkata airport remained unaffected despite the communication link failure yesterday, which was caused by the unserviceability of the BSNL infrastructure providing connectivity links for remote VHF radios, radar data and telephones.
“The feed from two radars at Kolkata and one at Behrampur were continuously available. As a result, there was no danger to any aircraft,” it said, adding that the arrival and departure schedules of aircraft to and from Kolkata Airport, too, were unaffected.
The ATC took prompt and immediate fall-back measures as per the standard protocol and operations were immediately decentralised to the ATCs at Varanasi and Nagpur, among others, it said.
There was no breach of separation between aircraft or loss of contact as alternative modes of communication were used, it added.
The DGCA official said they have “sought a full report on the incident from Kolkata airport authorities”. The aviation regulator will initiate a probe into the incident once the authorities submit the report, the official added.