SEN. Grace Poe, presiding chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, pressed concerned authorities to “improve the technical capacity” of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), stressing the urgent need to “upgrade critical equipment” in a determined bid to “prevent future glitches” at all airports in the country.
“These should be complemented with the rollout of sufficient engineering guidelines and training of accredited engineers who will man the system,” the senator stressed in endorsing the Senate committee report on the New Year’s Day air traffic shutdown.
The lawmaker lamented that the January 1 “systems failure” was indeed “a confluence of factors and errors,” noting that “experts likened it to the planets aligning albeit with an unfortunate consequence.”
“Bihira pero alam nating posibleng mangyari ito, at patuloy na mangyayari kung wala tayong gagawin sa mga problema ng air traffic system sa bansa,” Poe added, reminding concerned authorities, “There is much work needed for a better system.”
“It is my earnest hope that through our investigative work, Congress will be able to assist CAAP in providing a system where travel in our airspace is no longer shut down by causes which could have been avoided,” the senator added.
At the same time, she indicated “the panel will not adopt a punitive direction on its findings, stressing public safety as its primary goal.”
Still, she assured “accountability will follow after we have laid down safety measures for our air passengers,” as she listed the Senate committee’s recommendations, as follows:
1) Setting up of another Communications, Navigation, and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) in an independent location
2) Fast-tracking of feasibility studies on the proposed Ninoy Aquino International Airport privatization
3) Immediate compliance by CAAP to the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organization
4) Amendment of CAAP charter to improve efficiency and transparency, and
5) Passage of relevant bills such as the Philippine Transportation Safety Board, Philippine Airports Authority Act and Air Passengers Bill of Rights.
Image credits: Voltaire F. Domingo/Senate PRIB