Belgocontrol equipment considered recent and well maintained according to independent expert

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This morning, an independent expert initiated an inquiry at Belgocontrol in order to identify the causes of the blackout last Wednesday. He has shared his first findings in the course of the day.

Wednesday morning there was an overvoltage in the Belgocontrol air traffic control centre during a monthly check to establish whether the emergency power supply systems were still functioning properly. That overvoltage damaged the electrical protection systems of our traffic control centre, causing it to black out.

Belgocontrol has engaged the services of an independent expert to shed more light on the causes of the overvoltage. According to his first findings, the Belgocontrol equipment is recent and well maintained and its concept cannot be questioned at this stage. The electrical installation, which was established ten years ago, was certified by a recognized organization in June 2014. That certification is renewed every five years.

A full analysis will uncover the precise causes of yesterday’s incident so we may draw the necessary conclusions from it and take the appropriate measures.

Safety guaranteed
When confronted with this unusual situation the crisis procedure ‘Clear the sky’ was immediately launched with the single goal to guarantee air traffic safety. Approaching aircraft were able to land and control of aircraft travelling in the airspace managed by Belgocontrol was taken over instantly by neighbouring centres thanks to the professionalism of our air traffic controllers and the good collaboration with our neighbouring countries’ air traffic control centres. During that period the 9 kilometer lateral and 300 metre vertical safety distances have always been observed. As is proper in such circumstances, the AAIU (Air Accident Investigation Unit) is currently investigating the operations carried out.

Reduced capacity
Wednesday morning the technical teams promptly made every effort to restart the affected systems as soon as the situation allowed it. Those systems have been progressively put into service as the damaged equipment was replaced. As of Wednesday evening, the centre reached an operational capacity of 75%. All flights can be carried out again even though some delays might still occur. It will take several days still before we will once more reach our full capacity.

Lessons learned
Belgocontrol is fully aware of the impact this incident has on the air passengers and our country’s economy. We are completely committed to unveiling the cause of this incident and on that basis we will take all the necessary measures.

Thursday 28 May 2015

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