Sydney software glitch causes chaotic start to Aussie school holidays.

September 25, 2017

A software problem that rendered air traffic control screens in Sydney inoperable has been blamed for a rocky start to the Australian school holidays.

Flights to and from Sydney Airport  faced major disruptions during the Monday peak travel period after the glitch hit  Airservice Australia’s air traffic control and management system.

The impact was made worse  because it occurred on the first day of the busy school holidays as holidaymakers converged on the airport.

Unhappy passengers tweeted their dismay at being told they were unable to board their aircraft as only a limited number of flights were able to land and take off.

Arriving international aircraft were given priority while many domestic aircraft suffered big delays, causing a knock-on effect to other airports such as Melbourne and Brisbane.

The problems began about 5am and shortly afterwards  air traffic controllers began informing pilots of problems with the flight planning and radar system.

“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,” Airservices said in a statement

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

“The fault has now been rectified, and Airservices is now working to resume to normal operations and clear the backlog of flights.”

The air traffic control provider said it was confident the problem was not caused by a cyber-security breach and it expected to clear the backlog of lights by early afternoon.

It has been a tough couple of weeks for Sydney Airport with strong winds causing the cancellation of about 150 domestic flights on September 14 and 15.

In that case, strong crosswinds reaching up to 60kmh on the first day prompted Airservices to switch to single runway operations.

Sydney is Australia’s busiest airport and any problems there can affect the entire East Coast.