Air traffic system glitch delays NAIA flights

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The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines Air Traffic Management Center. Photo from CAAP.
  • Flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport experienced delays on May 20 due to a “potential”problem with the software of the Air Traffic Management Center, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines
  • The issue was resolved by 2:02pm on the same day

Flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) experienced delays on May 20 due to a “potential” problem with the Air Traffic Management Center (ATMC) software, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

“To ensure safety of the flying public, CAAP decided to be conservative and manage the operations by providing longer separation of departing flights,” CAAP said in an advisory at 1:05pm, adding that only departing flights are experiencing longer separation intervals and that communications and surveillance at the ATMC were unaffected.

The issue was resolved by 2:02pm and regular flight operations thereafter restored, CAAP said.

AirAsia Philippines, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines issued separate advisories on the problem.

CAAP did not identify the problem but Cebu Pacific in an online advisory posted at 3:43 pm said they were working to restore operations at NAIA “after the main flight data processor of the Air Traffic Management Center (ATMC) system experienced a technical issue.”

Cebu Pacific added: “Only limited flight operations were permitted between midday and 2:21pm. The ATMC resumed operations at 2:21pm but it will take some time for operations to normalize. Please expect delays, cancellations, and disruptions for the remainder of the day.”

Cebu Pacific cancelled five domestic flights as a result of the problem.

The ATMC houses the communications, navigations, surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) system, which manages and supervises the air traffic activities within the Philippine Flight Information Region.

CAAP assured that communications and surveillance at the ATMC remain available and unaffected.

It may be recalled that on January 1, 2023, the power supply of the CNS/ATM system broke down and resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of flights in the country. CAAP last year also completed corrective maintenance activities at the ATMC.