By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz
MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has ordered the fast-tracking of the modernization of the country’s aviation safety system to avoid glitches similar to the Jan. 1 incident at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
At a media briefing in Malacañang on Tuesday, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Jaime Bautista said the management agreement with Sumitomo-Thales — the maintenance provider of the communications, navigation, and surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) system of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) — will also be expedited.
“[Marcos] is very much aware of what happened and he supports our recommendation to implement future requirements necessary for the upgrade or improvement of the CNS/ATM system, which includes hardware and software maintenance, hardware replacement, ultimate fallback system for software redundancy and the need for an independent CNS/ATM in a separate location,” Bautista said.
He said the government has been working with Sumitomo-Thales since September last year to help CAAP with the maintenance of the CNS/ATM system.
However, he said a maintenance agreement was not reached due to financial issues with the maintenance provider.
“Mayroon silang claim against the government, mayroon din tayong claim against them and they were just trying to settle this and hopefully by the end of this month, mayroon nang clear indication on how we will be able to settle the issue (They have a claim against the government, we also have a claim against them and they were trying to settle this and hopefully by the end of this month, we’ll have a clear indication on how we will be able to settle the issue),” he said.
He said the government is looking to enter into an agreement with Sumitomo-Thales and separate the issue of claims.
“We met with Sumitomo-Thales a few weeks ago and we suggested that we negotiate for a permanent maintenance agreement pending the settlement of the issues,” he said.
Aside from upgrading the CNS/ATM system, the government is also looking to create an offsite permanent back-up system, possibly in another airport, to keep the system redundant and further minimize the possibility of issues that could affect airport operations.
“We will need to prepare a feasibility study to do this and for us to be able to determine the cost which we will present to NEDA (National Economic and Development Authority) for approval and for funding either from ODA (official development assistance) or from GAA (General Appropriations Act),” he said. (PNA)