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CAAP Hotchkiss (left) and Lions seal the CNS/ATM deal with a handshake after signing the contract at the CAAP last week.

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines director general William Hotchkiss III (left) and Thales Australia Limited Philippine branch office manager Raymond Lions seal the P159.9-million deal for the upgrade of the Philippines’ aging air traffic management system.

THE Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has signed an agreement with an Australian company and its local partner to upgrade its ageing air traffic management system at a cost of P159.9 million.

CAAP, in partnership with Thales Australia and Pacific Hemisphere Development, will upgrade the Eurocat air traffic management system, a computerized air traffic control and management solution that controls enroute, overflights, arriving and departing air traffic from as far as 250 kilometers away.

The contract was signed by CAAP Director General William K. Hotchkiss lll and Raymond Lions, manager of the Thales Australia Limited Philippine branch office who also signed for Pacific Hemisphere.

The upgrade will cover the existing area control center and is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of this year.

CAAP said the improvement is essential because the P13 billion next-generation satellite-based Communications, Navigation, Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) project that was signed during the previous administration was delayed and would not be in place until the end of 2015.

The aviation regulator said the absence of a ready substitute is a cause for worry for CAAP because if the Eurocat bogs down, the operational load of air traffic will be affected and flight disruptions will have an effect on Philippine airspace.

By adopting the CNS/ATM technology program, the Philippines will put the country at par with the rest of the world.

Thales Australia is a conglomerate that makes a wide range of products from aerospace technologies, security systems and solutions to arms and advanced military equipment.

Its TopSky air traffic management system ensures the safety of operators and passengers at a time when soaring growth in air traffic poses a range of complex technical challenges.

The company says in its website that technologies supplied by its global center of excellence, based in Melbourne, are deployed in Australia and across Asia and the Pacific region.

Details about its Philippine partner, Makati-based Pacific Hemisphere, are scanty and efforts by PortCalls to talk to a responsible officer proved futile with staff saying the managing director is out of town.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has agreed to give signatories such as the Philippines until 2016 to adopt the satellite-based CNS/ATM system, although many countries around the world have already been using it for the last few years.

CAAP said the technology works by having aircraft transponders receive satellite signals and using transponder transmissions to determine the precise locations of aircraft in the sky.

The CNS/ATM technology includes a computer-based flight data processing system that will enable aircraft operators to meet their planned departure and arrival times and adhere to their preferred flight profiles with minimum constraints and without compromising agreed levels of safety.

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