Solar storm knocks out flight control systems in Sweden

November 4, 2015
Travellers wait in the terminal building at Stockholm's Arlanda on August 17, 2013
Travellers wait in the terminal building at Stockholm's Arlanda on August 17, 2013

Aviation officials say a solar storm knocked out the air traffic control systems in Sweden on Wednesday, prompting them to close the country's airspace for more than an hour.

The civil aviation authority said the solar storm created disturbances in the Earth's magnetic field, which affected radar installations in southern Sweden. No such problems were reported in neighboring countries.

Agency spokesman Per Froberg said flights disappeared from radar screens in Swedish air traffic control towers during the blackout, which lasted about an hour until 5:30 p.m. (1630 GMT). Froberg said it was unclear why the impact was so severe, adding the last time something similar happened in Sweden was in 1999.

"We're working on sorting out the delays. We can't examine the cause right now. We have our hands full," he said.

He couldn't say how many flights were affected, but the country's main airports listed dozens of delays.

Air traffic control officials in neighboring Denmark and Finland say they didn't experience any problems.

"There haven't been any disturbances. Only a few delays in Copenhagen because of the problems in Stockholm," said Mette Just of Naviair, Denmark's air navigation service.

Explore further: Fast solar wind causes aurora light shows

Related Stories

Fast solar wind causes aurora light shows

October 12, 2015

On the night of Oct. 8, 2015, a photographer in Harstad, Norway captured this image of the dancing northern lights. Auroras are created when fast-moving, magnetic solar material strikes Earth's magnetic bubble, the magnetosphere. ...

Image: Snowing in space?

November 2, 2015

The flurry of what looks like snow in this video is actually a barrage of energetic particles. This is what's known as a solar radiation storm, hitting an instrument onboard ESA/NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, ...

Recommended for you

Dawn mission extended at Ceres

October 20, 2017

NASA has authorized a second extension of the Dawn mission at Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. During this extension, the spacecraft will descend to lower altitudes than ever before ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.