Nothing works in Swiss airspace in the early morning: after a crash, air traffic control prohibits all take-offs, landings and flights. But the worst suspicion has not been confirmed.
After an unprecedented accident at Swiss air traffic control Skyguide, all airspace over Switzerland was closed for several hours on Wednesday morning.
Thousands of passengers have suffered – either because incoming flights have been diverted to neighboring countries or because they initially waited in vain for departure at Geneva and Zurich airports. The failure was fixed on Wednesday around 8:30. Skyguide quickly dispelled the suspicion of a cyber attack. The reason was a hardware failure, the Geneva-based company announced.
It was also forbidden to fly over Switzerland. Hundreds of planes could be seen on radar maps in Europe, but a large black hole above Switzerland. Such a long break is very unusual. The last major accident occurred in 2013 due to a false fire alarm. Air traffic controllers had to leave the controls and no aircraft was allowed to take off or land for 20 minutes.
“The component from the network has been broken,” Skyguide spokesman Vladi Barrosa told Blick TV. The network itself is intended to be “redundant” – that is, made up of many parts – but this was not the case with this one element. “It’s like a car, if the ignition or the battery is damaged, you have to replace it before you can continue driving,” he said. The airspace had to be closed because air traffic controllers could no longer see the machines on the radar.
“Skyguide regrets this incident and its consequences for its customers and partners, as well as passengers at two domestic airports,” the company said.
Many machines have been redirected
Among other things, the Swiss subsidiary of Lufthansa suffered. Many flights to Geneva and Zurich had to be diverted. The plane from Shanghai landed in Vienna instead of Zurich, one from Dubai and Johannesburg was diverted to Milan, one from Montreal and Chicago to Basel, the spokesman said. Most passengers, having repaired the failure, went to their original destinations as soon as possible – also because the machines were scheduled for further flights. However, the Swiss had to cancel 70 flights and, according to information, a total of 7,000 passengers were affected. (dpa)