MANILA – A lawmaker on Tuesday stressed the need for the urgent acquisition of new backup air traffic control (ATC) technology after the technical failure that caused massive flight delays affecting about 65,000 passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on New Year’s Day.
Quezon Rep. Reynan Arrogancia, vice chair of the House of Representatives committee on transportation, said the government could source the funding to replace the outdated air traffic system from the unprogrammed funds under the 2023 national budget.
Arrogancia said the executive branch, through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), could also assist the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in finding the funds to upgrade the equipment.
"The current ATC system is already handicapped. We urgently need a new one. We also need a backup system with matching protocols. The aviation facilities at Clark, Sangley, and Subic should be among the backup options," he said.
"The massive service outage at NAIA air traffic control is a clear and painful reminder of what must be included among our top critical governance and investment priorities."
Aside from the budget implications, he noted that the aviation service outage is also a national security issue.
"For many hours, our country was blind to incoming and outgoing air traffic of whatever kind and that is a matter of national security, aside from the obvious aviation transport nightmare," he said.
In a press conference on Sunday, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) cited technical glitches that affected nearly 300 flights.
The DOTr, in a statement on Monday, said the "incident that resulted in the loss of power in the system was due to a problem in the system’s electrical network, with its uninterruptible power supply, which is to be used as backup power supply, also failing."
It said the main cause of the power supply problem is still being determined and is subject to investigation.
CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio said in a radio interview that they are looking forward to fixing the system after the approval of their PHP120 million budget to procure spare parts and upgrade the Communications, Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM).
Under the CNS/ATM system, the country has 13 radars at NAIA Terminals 1 and 2, Clark, Tagaytay, Aparri, Laoag, Cebu-Mt. Majic, Quezon-Palawan, Zamboanga, Mactan, Bacolod, Kalibo, and Davao, covering about 70 percent of Philippine airspace. (PNA)