Philippine air transport regulator to hire contractor for traffic oversight

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THE DEPARTURE area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 3 was crowded with passengers at midnight of Jan. 2 after the Philippine air space was shut on Jan. 1 due to technical problems with the air traffic control system. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MIGUEL DE GUZMAN

THE CIVIL Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) is looking to hire a contractor that will oversee the country’s air traffic after a New Year’s Day glitch that led to thousands of canceled flights.

“We need to provide stricter oversight,” CAAP Director-General Manuel Antonio L. Tamayo told a House of Representatives hearing on Wednesday.

He said he would meet with his Singaporean counterpart for best practices in air traffic management. “There is a company that provides oversight to them,” he said “It is external, so I was asking them if we could apply that system in our [country].”

CAAP also plans to upgrade and provide for a backup of the country’s air traffic system.

Mr. Tamayo said CAAP continues to train workers. “We have a rationalization plan in place. We are continuously training our technical personnel.”

He said the last onsite audit by the International Civil Aviation Organization for CAAP was in 2017. The next audit will take place this year after the 2020 review got canceled amid a coronavirus pandemic.

CAAP had bought two uninterruptible power supply units to prevent another malfunction, Mr. Tamayo said.

At the hearing, officials of the Cybercrime Investigation Coordinating Center told congressmen it needs P400 million to find out whether the Jan. 1 glitch involved a cyber-attack.

“We’re given sticks and stones to go to war [but] we’re doing it based on capability,” CICC Undersecretary Alexander K. Ramos said. “Give us the tools, maybe we can ride on something faster.”

Antipolo City Rep. Romeo M. Acop, who heads the House transportation committee, asked why the agency could not do its job well “because of a budget cut.”

Maria Victoria Castro, director of the Cybersecurity bureau of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), said its cyber-attack test would take six weeks. — Beatriz Marie D. Cruz