Minimal flight disruptions seen as CAAP upgrades equipment
MANILA, Philippines — The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) was expected to push through with the two-hour maintenance of its air traffic management center from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Wednesday but without a shutdown of the country’s airspace, causing minimal flight disruptions.
The maintenance work, earlier announced as six hours long, involved the replacement of a defective uninterruptible power supply (UPS) unit that malfunctioned on New Year’s Day after one of its cooling blowers conked out.
According to CAAP Deputy Director General for Operations Edgardo Diaz, they prepared a backup UPS unit before replacing the old one to ensure that there would be no disruption in communication and radar during the activity, thus eliminating the need to shut down the country’s airspace.
Affected airline companies earlier issued advisories to their passengers regarding flight cancellations and delays due to the scheduled maintenance of the Communications, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) system.
Philippine Airlines said it would “strive to maintain normal flight schedules” with flights departing from Manila within the two-hour period allowed to take off and land on one of two runways that would remain open for departures.
The flag carrier added that possible flight delays were expected as it advised passengers to check the real-time status of their flight via www.philippineairlines.com/en/flight-status.
AirAsia, on the other hand, canceled six domestic flights — Manila to Davao, Cebu, and Bacolod — while the departure schedules of six other flights were adjusted.
“The slight adjustments in flight retiming will pave the way for safer, more reliable, and improved Philippine airspace management,” AirAsia Philippines communications and public affairs country head Steve Dailisan said.
Affected passengers can avail themselves of several options such as moving their flight, rebooking, credit account, or refund via AskBo on the Airasia Superapp.
CAAP earlier said the system repair and upgrade would have no effect on flights at Mactan-Cebu International Airport although it would disrupt four regional flights at Clark International Airport.
The maintenance activity came four months after the technical glitch that closed the country’s airspace, leaving 56,000 passengers grounded and affecting 361 domestic and international flights flying in and out of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia).
Diaz said they also intended to reconfigure the Air Traffic Management System (ATMS) A/B power supply to ensure that it would “continue to provide safe and efficient air traffic control operations.”
“The Philippine Air Traffic Management Center power supply upgrade will involve the installation of a bypass panel to provide seamless ATM operations and the reconfiguration of the existing power distribution panel to segregate ATM system A (voice) and ATM system B (data),” he said.
Wednesday’s maintenance activity at the Philippine Air Traffic Management Center, which houses the CNS/ATM system, is the second to be conducted this month.
The first was done from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. on May 3 to prevent a repeat of the widespread disruption of operations at Naia on Jan. 1. During the two-hour period, the country’s airspace was shut down although airline companies had been warned beforehand to allow them to advise their passengers.
On May 1, an eight-hour power outage at Naia Terminal 3 led to flight delays and cancellations that affected more than 9,000 passengers.