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Radar approach problems delay commercial flights

Date Posted: 2009-03-06

A problem with the U.S. Air Force’s radar approach control operation at Kadena Air Base slowed air traffic movements the afternoon of February 26th.

Half-hour delays were recorded by 27 civilian flights at Naha International Airport beginning about 3:30 p.m. last Thursday. A Kadena Public Affairs Office spokesman told local news media “the Radar Approach Control’s ability went down, and we’re trying to retrieve it in a hurry.” Newspapers questioned whether the addition of F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft to the Kadena Air Base aircraft mix in January had any impact on the Rapcon problems.

“Because of Rapcon going down,” the Public Affairs Office told reporters, “we are controlling the pace right now, and maintaining flight safety as we try to get the system back on line while finding out what went wrong.” The Naha Airport’s office said “we contacted Kadena Rapcon and they told us to constantly open the distance of all departing flights.” He said they made each flight delay deliberately, with “each flight becoming further delayed.’ By nightfall, as fewer flights were scheduled, the delays were reduced.

A Naha International Airport spokesman says 25 flight departures were delayed 1 hour 18 minutes, while flights landing were delayed 47 minutes. The airport said it didn’t count flights whose delays were less than 30 minutes.

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