What happened to Dublin airport?
Flights were disrupted for days, but information about exactly what went wrong is puzzlingly vague.
AP explained that ‘the radar system failed to display the call signs that normally identify each incoming aircraft’.
Bloomberg simply mentioned a ‘loss of functionality’, explaining that there were two separate incidents, one on Wednesday morning, another the same afternoon.
CNN stated that engineers ‘rebooted the system Wednesday afternoon and the problem went away.’ Somehow the idea that an €115 million system works like a bad version of Windows 95 doesn’t inspire confidence.
Ryanair complained that a backup system in Shannon wasn’t put into use, as it emerged that there have been problems with the system for weeks.
The government said a Dublin backup would cost an additional €115 million, and Noel Dempsey told the Dáil the problem wasn’t due to a malicious hacker.
But he couldn’t say if the crash was down to hardware or software problems.
Opposition speakers suggested the problem coincided with a software update last month, but the Sunday Business Post reported that a ‘faulty piece of hardware in the system was replaced’ following the system crash.
So what went wrong? Will we ever be told?
Since I asked the question, it is only fair to answer it.
French based Thales ATM regarded as the world’s leading air traffic control systems provider, built the €100m radar system used in Dublin.
‘Thales ATM confirmed the root cause of the hardware system malfunction as an intermittent malfunctioning network card which consequently overcame the built-in system redundancy,’ according to a statement from the Irish Aviation Authority last Thursday.
The same faulty card was also responsible for earlier intermittent problems.
The press statement is sparse on technical details, so it’s difficult to see exactly what sequence of events led to the hardware failure.
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