Flight delays blamed on broken gear

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02:25 AM January 8th, 2012

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By: Tina G. Santos, January 8th, 2012 02:25 AM

MANILA, Philippines—Several domestic and international flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) were delayed due to defective aviation equipment used by air traffic controllers, an official of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said.

The official, who declined to be named for lack of authority to speak on the matter, said the airport’s terminal radar data display (TRDD) had been “unserviceable” since Jan. 2.

He said the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) had advised airlines that it would take until the end of the month to fix the equipment.

Because of the busted gear, air traffic controllers are forced to increase the separation—landing and take off—between aircraft, thus, causing the flight delays, especially during peak hours.

“Air traffic controllers are forced to space the airplanes farther apart, causing delays in both arrivals and departures,” the official told the Inquirer.

Airlines, however, blamed the delays on the increased number of flights because of the holiday season.

The TRDD is used by air traffic controllers to identify all aircraft within a 60-mile radius of the Naia.

It processes data from various radars scattered around the Philippines and presents the aircrafts’ position, altitude, ground speed, among other information needed by the air traffic controllers to control the arrival or departure of airplanes.

“The equipment is used by air traffic controllers to guide the pilots,” the source said.

But both the Caap and flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) downplayed the importance of the busted equipment, saying it was not a big deal and did not pose a threat to the safety of airline passengers.

“That equipment is also called the secondary surveillance radar. It was just placed there for added convenience for air traffic controllers, but with or without it, the operation and the work of air traffic controllers in guiding the pilots could proceed as usual,” Caap Director General Ramon Gutierrez said.

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