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Communication link failure at Kolkata airport, DGCA seeks details

Panic prevailed both off and on the ground due to a communication link failure at the 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 the Kolkata airport early on Thursday morning, a senior Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official said on Friday. The incident forced the Kolkata Air Traffic Control (ATC) 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 around two hours from 7.35 am to 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. The ATC reportedly lost contact with 85 airborne aircrafts for 10 minutes.

However, an official statement said ATC services at the airport remained unaffected despite the communication link failure on Thursday, 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 of aircraft at the Airport were unaffected.

Meanwhile, a DGCA official said they have “sought a full report on the incident from the Kolkata airport authorities”. The DGCA will initiate a probe into the incident once the authorities submit the report, he added.
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