Probe into NAIA glitch takes off

A newly-formed independent body — composed of different government agencies — has launched an intensive investigation into the technical glitch that shut down the air management system of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on New Year’s Day.

At a House hearing on Wednesday, Transportation Undersecretary for Aviation Roberto Lim revealed that representatives of the group had visited the Communication, Navigation, and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management System site to take the testimonies of on-ground personnel.

“They visited the site. They inspected the relevant parts of the facility, they interviewed people, took testimonies from the people directly involved in operating, manning and supervising the CNS/ATM,” Lim told members of the House Committee on Transportation.

He added that a vulnerability test is being conducted on both the CNS/ATM system and its equipment amid speculation the airport fiasco may have been triggered by a cyber-attack.

The investigating body is composed of representatives from the Department of Transportation, Department of Information and Communications Technology, Cybercrime Investigation and Coordinating Center, National Bureau of Investigation, and National Intelligence Coordinating Agency.

According to Lim, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines was inhibited from participating in the investigation.

Lim did not give details on the exact timeline of the investigation but noted that it may “take weeks before the body’s findings and recommendations are submitted to the committee.”

The CNS/ATM system provides various computer-aided safety measures in air traffic control or ATC. It enhances safety by reducing controller or pilot workloads and human errors.
The system is a P10.8-billion project financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency completed in October 2017.
Previously, CAAP used only three radars stationed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay, in Clark, Pampanga, and Tagaytay, Cavite to manage the Philippines’ air traffic.

With the new CNS/ATM system, the country now has 13 radars — NAIA 1, Clark, Tagaytay, Aparri, Laoag, and Cebu Mt. Majic, Quezon-Palawan, Zamboanga, NAIA 2, Mactan, Bacolod, Kalibo and Davao — covering around 70 percent of Philippine air space.

Additionally, with the introduction of the Automatic Dependent Surveillance –Contract and the Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications, the CNS/ATM can cover 100 percent of the remaining oceanic airspace, hence increasing air traffic safety and capacity in the oceanic region of the Manila Flight Information Region.

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