Airlines have adjusted their flight schedules to give way for the maintenance activities on the country’s Air Traffic Management System on May 17 to avoid a repeat of the infamous New Year’s Day shutdown.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) already completed its initial “corrective maintenance activity” on Wednesday (May 3) and said it “went smoothly.”
“The maintenance work on the Automatic Voltage Regulator was completed at around 0327H without disruption,” said CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio.
The repair work on May 3 included the removal of panel covers, replacement, testing and calibration, cleaning and closing of the front panel cover and side panel covers.
Apolonio said the next maintenance work at the Air Traffic Management Center (ATMC) may affect operations of major airports, particularly the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, because it will be done from midnight until 6 a.m. on May 17.
The ATMC houses the Communications, Navigations, Surveillance / Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) system which manages and supervises the air traffic activities within the Philippine Flight Information Region (FIR).
The ATMS power supply upgrade will involve the installation of a bypass panel to provide seamless ATMS operation and the reconfiguration of the existing distribution panel to segregate ATM system A (voice) and ATM system B (data), resulting in the UPS and AVR serving as each other’s backup in case the other power supply encounters a problem.
To ensure the continued safety of all its passengers, Air Asia Philippines is taking precautionary measures and sought the support of industry stakeholders for the proposed flight adjustmentsIn a meeting with Transportation department Undersecretary for Aviation Roberto Lim, CAAP Director General Capt. Manuel Antonio Tamayo, Manila International Airport Authority senior assistant general manager Bryan Co, and other industry leaders, the airlinediscussed the proposed rescheduling of 21 flights on May 16 and re-timing of 13, and the cancellation of six others on May 17.
Included in the rescheduling are flights to and from Taipei, Incheon, Bangkok (Don Mueang), Kota Kinabalu, and Incheon for international and Cebu, Bacolod, Davao, Puerto Princesa, Cagayan, Iloilo, and Tacloban for domestic. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
Canceled flights include those flying from Manila to Davao, Cebu, and Bacolod and their corresponding return flights, which cover the six-hour repair of ATMS.
Air Asia Communications and Public Affairs Country head Steve Dailisan said the repair of the CNS-ATM system is a positive development towards ensuring safer skies for all.
Legacy carrier Philippine Airlines earlier adjusted its internationaland domestic flight schedules on Tuesday and Wednesday to give way for the maintenance work.
“We seek your kind understanding as PAL works with the authorities to minimize the impact on our customers. The government is undertaking this preventive maintenance work as part of a permanent upgrading and improvement of the country’s air navigational radar systems. Your safety remains our top priority,” PAL said in a statement.
The CAAP described the activity as a “preemptive measure to prevent the repeat of New Year’s Day shutdown of the country’s airspace.”
The maintenance activity will mainly affect flights at the NAIA, the Clark International Airport, and the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, and several flights at the other 42 CAAP commercially operated airports.
But Bataan Rep. Geraldine Roman called on the authorities to reconsider their plan to shut down Philippine airspace for six hours on May 17.
“I’m sure we have many experts who can install that system without affecting passengers,” Roman said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Roman expressed concern that the closure would mostly affect budget airlines’ promotions, which offer cheaper fares during the late hours.
She also highlighted the possible negative effects of the closure on subsequent flights and tourism during the summer.
Roman also raised her concern about the recent power outages at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3. She said such power outages, which inconvenienced passengers and disrupted airport operations, should not happen again.
Roman supports an investigation into the root cause of the outages and has urged authorities to take necessary steps to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.