Last Friday, a radar system failure doomed an entire afternoon of travel plans. Starting at 12:45, radar equipment was unable to operate at Munich's Franz Josef Strauß International Airport (MUC), leaving countless vacationers stranded.
Other modes of transportation were overwhelmed as people desperately tried to make their way to their destinations, whether it was a business trip, the start of the summer holidays, or just a weekend getaway. Car rental businesses were overflowing with unplanned customers, hotels near the airport were fully booked, and S-bahns packed. The personnel at the information stand at MUC could barely deal with the unexpected influx of clients who were all asking the same thing: "What is going on?"
Although the system returned to normal after 2 hours, over 100 flights were cancelled as a result of the system failure, and further flights were delayed as the airplane traffic continued to block the runways. The aftereffects of this may be felt for the remainder of the week.
Friday is notoriously one of the busiest days for travel and possibly the worst day for mishaps. With 1,200 flights coming in and out of the city's airport on any given Friday, this unfortunate setback affected the normally reliable German system in a multitude of ways.
Airplanes already in flight were rerouted by a backup system put in place for exactly this sort of situation. While the hardware mistake on land wreaked havoc, the airplanes and their precious cargoes in the sky were safe. The Deutsche Flugsicherung (German Flight Safety) assured everyone concerned that at no point during the two hour lapse in radar coverage was anyone's safety compromised.