News National Sydney airport chaos as system outage grounds planes

Sydney airport chaos as system outage grounds planes

Flights leaving Sydney Airport have been grounded on Monday morning.
Flights leaving Sydney Airport have been grounded on Monday morning. Photo: Twitter / Nadine Flood
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Hundreds of passengers have found themselves in long queues at Sydney’s domestic airport after a radar failure grounded flights for four hours on Monday morning.

The “air traffic control system failure” struck at 5am on Monday, on the first day of the New South Wales school holidays, cancelling some flights and delaying others by hours.

Power in the traffic systems operations went down with air traffic control having to revert to a manual process for departing flights, at a reduced rate, AAP understands.

The technical glitch was resolved by 9am with the domestic airport “progressively returning to normal operations,” a Sydney Airport spokeswoman said.

“The issue has been addressed but the airport is not at normal capacity. We are working hard to clear the backlog of flights,” Air Services Australia spokeswoman Sarah Fulton told AAP.

Virgin Australia, Qantas and Jetstar confirmed the problem is affecting flights, with all airlines asking passengers to check websites and urging travellers to be patient.

Passengers, however, remain stuck in lines as staff work to clear the backlog.

Air Services, the air traffic control provider, confirmed the technical issue had been addressed.

“We are now working to resume to normal operations and clear the backlog of flights,” a spokesperson said on Twitter.

One pilot described the Harbour City’s skies as being “like a ghost town” to air traffic control as he came in to land.

A cyber attack has been ruled out as the cause of the shutdown.

Air Services Australia (ASA) said there had been a “system software failure” at Sydney’s air traffic control.

The ABC understands the fault related to the flight planning system, without which controllers cannot distinguish between planes.

“The software fault failed to convert from night-shift operations to day-shift operations, consequently one air traffic control console was operational for the morning peak when in normal circumstances six to eight consoles are operating,” an ASA spokesperson said.

“The safety of the travelling public is our first priority and traffic capacity was reduced to maintain safety standards.”

Earlier, travellers took to social media to report being stuck on planes on the tarmac.

A Virgin Australia spokesperson earlier confirmed all flights at Sydney Airport were grounded “until further notice due to an Air Traffic Control issue”.

“We are working to have all guests on their way as quickly and safely as possible once the issue is rectified. We will be contacting those guests who may be impacted but we encourage all guests to check the flight status page,” the spokesperson said.

Travellers should still contact their airline for flight updates.

The New Daily has contacted Sydney Airport and Qantas for comment.

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