On New Year’s Day, panic surfaced in the Philippines after a serious power cut disrupted air traffic control at the country’s largest airport, disrupting hundreds of flights and stranding tens of thousands of travelers in the Southeast Asian hub.
A power outage caused the airport’s traffic management system to go down for several hours on Sunday, affecting over 65,000 passengers. The issue began on Sunday morning, when the Air Traffic Management Centre, which monitors all flights in Philippine airspace, lost communication, radio, radar, and internet due to a power outage.
When technicians attempted to bypass the damaged UPS, they sent 380 volts into the system rather than the intended 220 volts, frying the terminals that receive satellite data from airplanes and air traffic management systems.
According to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), the power outage originated in the electrical network of the Communications, Navigation, and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) system. Of course, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) exist to prevent situations like this from occurring, but neither of the system’s two backup power supplies worked.
The glitch not only delayed passengers arriving and departing from Manila, but it also disrupted the Manila Flight Information Region (FIR), which covers the entire Philippines. All commercial flights leaving the country’s airspace were rerouted as a result.
Jaime Bautista, the country’s Transport Secretary, apologized for the inconvenience, saying the air traffic control system would be upgraded immediately and a backup system would be installed.
The sources for this piece include an article in TheRegister.