Philippines: Better services seen with improved air traffic equipment

Manila: Air passengers using Philippine international airports can expect markedly improved services and better safety after the country completed its air traffic management system, Secretary Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation (DoTR) said.

Tugade said President Rodrigo Duterte inaugurated on Tuesday the communications, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) systems, a state-of-the art computer and satellite-based air traffic management technology similar to that being used by Australia, Taiwan, and other European countries.

“Through the CNS/ATM systems, air travel is expected to be more definite, aircraft identification to be more established, and safety and security of passengers are guaranteed,” he said.

The country’s air traffic management system not too long ago had suffered from a multitude of problems.

In 2014 air traffic management systems at Philippines airports, particularly the main air gateway to Manila, the Manila International Airport, was notorious for frequent breakdowns of its radars.

These glitches caused delays which further worsened congestion as the passenger aircraft were not able to land and take off on time.

The Manila International Authority oversees the operations of four passenger terminals, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport 1,2,3 and 4 which serves domestic flyers.

The benefits of the new system will also cover other airports in the country.

“The new CNS/ATM Systems project established an aviation infrastructure to more than 40 airports, air navigation facilities, and air traffic control facilities nationwide, from Basco, Batanes in the North to Jolo in the South,” the CAAP said in a statement.

The new system also brings with it better air traffic flow and space management, which optimises airport capacity and efficient use of airspace that will in turn minimise delays by helping aircraft operators meet their departure and arrival schedules.

Being unable to land and take off on time is costly for the airline operators as their aircraft would have to hold off arriving at their destination because the runway was still being used by other planes.

“In short, the CNS/ATM technology enhances safety, reliability, and efficiency of air traffic service in the Philippines airspace,” Tugade said.

He said that the CNS/ATM project started in 2009 during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. However, due to delays in construction and other challenges, government was not able to meet its 2016 completion date.

Tugade said that when he assumed the helm of the DoTr, there were only three air traffic radars in operation — the NAIA, Clark, and Tagaytay, which cover only 30 per cent of the Philippine airspace.

Under the new administration, 10 additional radars have been installed.

“This means that the country has now a total of 13 radars, and one satellite radar, that will enable the air sector to cover 100 per cent of the entire Philippine airspace,” he said.

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