CAAP seeks Congress help for gear upgrade


TO prevent a repeat of the January 1 technical glitch which disrupted hundreds of flights and inconvenienced thousands of passengers, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Wednesday asked the House of Representatives to help them implement plans to upgrade the country’s Communications, Navigation, and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) System, including procurement of the Ultimate Fallback System.

At the continuation of the House hearing on the New Year’s Day incident, CAAP Director General Captain Manuel Antonio Tamayo said the agency shall proceed with its plans for improvement of the CNS-ATM.

Tamayo told lawmakers the CAAP needs to immediately restore and enhance the CNS-ATM to its original design before the incident.

“[We also need to do] procurement of the Ultimate Fallback System, which is considered a system upgrade and construction of an Independent Back-up for the current CNS-ATM,” said Tamayo.

Also, he said, CAAP needs to hire a third-party contractor to provide oversight.

“It is true that any man-made equipment can’t be 100 percent perfect all the time, but we want the public to know that we shall do the best we can in order to provide an efficient service to our country and the aviation sector,” said Tamayo.

“Nevertheless, we will be needing the help and assistance of this honorable committee in making these plans come into reality. This is of course to provide better service to our fellow Filipinos and our country, which may further boost our tourism industry,” he added.

Meanwhile, Tamayo also apologized for the confusion caused by several statements issued by CAAP to a public desperate for explanations on what really happened on January 1.

“Please take note that it was never our intention to do so. The differences in the reports are due to our bid to be transparent to the public, that we provide updates to the media and other government agencies as they happen,” he said.

Tamayo had said CAAP’s first assessment was a problem with the UPS since it was not providing power to the equipment despite being active and receiving power from the source.

“[But] it was not until the engineers were able to determine that the probable cause of the disruption was the circuit breaker after a series of remedial measures, and evaluation,” he said.

“There were intervals in our official reports as our controllers, engineers, and technical staff were all working together to ensure the safety of all aircraft queued for landing and to quickly restore power without further damaging our vital equipment,” Tamayo explained.

All the assessment, evaluation, and theories as to the probable cause of the disruption only came clear after the situation had normalized, said Tamayo.

“And as of this moment, we have identified that the probable causes of this ordeal are the damaged circuit breaker, and one of the equipment which was damaged—the Power Transfer Switch (PTS). Both items were turned over to the CICC last January 09, 2023 for forensic investigation and examination to ensure impartiality,” he said.

According to Tamayo, the external investigation handled by other government agencies is still ongoing.

“We would like to manifest that we take all of this as a lesson and we further manifest to this committee, and all those who were affected that we take full responsibility and accountability for what happened,” he added.

Independent body

An independent body is currently investigating the technical glitch that led to the total shut off of the CNS/ATM system last January 1, 2023, according to Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation Roberto Lim.

Lim revealed the investigating body has representatives from the Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center (CICC), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).

Lim added that CAAP inhibited itself from participating in the investigation.

Representatives of agencies have already visited the CNS/ATM site and gathered testimonies from personnel manning the critical system, Lim said.

“So far, [they] have visited the site. They inspected the relevant parts of the facility, they have interviewed people, testimonies from people directly involved in operating, manning and supervising the CNS/ATM,” he said, adding that a vulnerability test is being conducted on both the CNS/ATM system and its equipment.

Lim said the investigation could take weeks before submitting the body’s findings and recommendations to the committee.