Friday, 29 May 2020

SITA holds press conference regarding outage at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport

SITA, a multinational information technology company providing IT and telecommunication services to the air transport industry, including Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport, held a press conference on Friday explaining the circumstances that had led to the unfortunate outage at Beirut's airport last week:

"We would like to take the opportunity to explain the circumstances that had led to the unfortunate outage at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport during the night of September 6 and early morning of September 7, 2018.

First, we very much regret the disruption that this has caused to the Beirut airport, the airlines and their passengers.

Following this incident, our team have conducted further investigation into the root cause of this outage.

Our investigation shows that:

In the days leading up to the incident, SITA's team in Beirut, as well as SITA's Global Command Centers, received notification from our network service provider alerting them that a key component of our Beirut Network Node needed to be replaced. This node is vital in providing network connectivity to the airport.

This Beirut Network Node had built-in redundancy, in other words it could therefore reliably continue to operate without any disruption to services at the airport.

SITA well understands that the services we provide in Lebanon are of a vital importance and therefore SITA scheduled preventative maintenance to replace the faulty component as soon as practically possible.

Although this type of routine maintenance is regularly done without impacting normal services, the timing of the intervention was carefully planned during a lower traffic period in the airport.

On September 6, SITA's engineers on site - with the remote support of our network service provider - started the technical intervention to replace the component in the network node.

During the synchronization process, an exceptional system fault brought the network node down at 22:57pm. This resulted in a complete loss of connectivity to the airport.

This incident was immediately treated with the upmost urgency and triggered SITA's Major Incident Process.

Several attempts were made to recover the node using spares available.

In analyzing the various options to restore service to the airport in the shortest and most secure way, the team opted to proceed with an emergency migration of Beirut airport's network connections to a new network node.

SITA had already planned to migrate to this new technology after the peak holiday season in Beirut and had already done all the required testing for implementation.

While the migration to a network node is complex, we were confident - given our earlier preparation - that this was the best and most viable option.

Once this migration was completed, the first customers and services were restored starting at 5:00am on September 7.

In reviewing the root cause analysis of this incident, we firmly believe that SITA opted for the best course of action to restore services to the airport. We are confident that all care and diligence was taken by our team.

Nevertheless, we again regret the disruption that this has caused to the airport, airline and their passengers. We remain committed to our customers and to providing the best and most responsive service possible."

Source: National News Agency

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