Normal air traffic operations are resuming after planes were temporarily grounded across New Zealand due to radar system problems in Christchurch on September 30th, according to Reuters. Thirty-nine domestic flights were delayed or turned back following a radar fault which caused mass disruption to flights and left passengers stranded.
The fault was caused by a fire alarm. Airways New Zealand tweeted, “The fire alarm was set off by smoke from one of our two Uninterrupted Power Supplies (UPS) which had failed. Therefore, our radar and communications system reverted to back-up system mode.”
Airways New Zealand is responsible for providing air traffic control and flight path management around the country. Its air traffic controllers work from a radar centre in Christchurch, which was affected by the fire alarm at approximately 1.30pm.
According to an Airways NZ spokesperson, "The fire brigade has now cleared the building as safe and the radar centre continues to operate."
Airports are now working to clear the backlog. "The Airways NZ issue has been resolved at Christchurch Airport, so our flights are coming and going again," Christchurch Airport tweeted.
Airways' CEO Graeme Summer apologised to clients and the travelling public for the disruption and its follow-on effects, pointing out that the network should be back to normal by the end of the day. "Our airborne international flights were unaffected as our main Oceanic control centre is independently managed from Auckland. Normal operations have now resumed nationally. Flights are no longer grounded,” Airways NZ said.