Legazpi airport suffers Blackout too

But ATC survives Power Failure!

September 18, 2009

By Rainier Allan Ronda and Rudy Santos
Justify Full

MANILA, Philippines - Commercial supply of electricity fluctuated in Legazpi, Albay yesterday, busting he transformer of the city airport for about two hours yesterday morning.

Fortunately, a back-up battery was activated immediately upon the breakdown of the transformer at 11:27 a.m. and operations at the airport remained normal, Edgardo Ramos, Legazpi City airport manager, said.

The power transformer was repaired by 1:38 p.m. and the incident caused no delayed or cancelled flights.

Last Sunday, a power outage at the Manila air control tower crippled operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for several hours, causing the cancellation and delay of several international and domestic flights.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) failed to restore power immediately to the communication and navigation equipment, especially the vital radar machines.

While the CAAP said that it had restored uninterrupted power supply at the control tower, the incident led MalacaƱang to order an investigation.

But CAAP insiders expressed doubts over investigation, as it would be headed by Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Leandro Mendoza.

“The problems here in the CAAP should be looked into by knowledgeable civil aviation experts who will not cover up for the ignorance of retired military officers that have been placed in highly technical and sensitive positions here,” sources said.

The sources said while the CAAP top management and the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) has been downplaying the radar problem and attributing it to aging communications and navigation equipment, the power outage last Sunday paralyzed airport operations.

They said this could have been avoided if there were regular preventive maintenance checks by the CAAP.

“We are being led by people who do not know their jobs,” a source said.

The sources noted that CAAP director general Ruben Ciron has kept silent about the incident.

“We’re not surprised. We doubt if he can tell you what the problem was. And what’s worse is that he appointed his fellow retired military officers to crucial positions and these people do not know civil aviation matters,” the source said.

MACC construction to start

Meanwhile, the DOTC has given the go signal for the CAAP to start the construction of a new back-up Manila Area Control Center (MACC).

Ciron said Mendoza called him up Tuesday night and told him to proceed with the new project, which would be in place in three months

Called the ALS 2.5 system, the equipment would be used primarily by air controllers, while the old radar monitor-display consoles would be on standby in case of emergencies.

The project, costing about P300 million, will be finished by December.

Similar equipment imported from abroad, consisting of a workstation with 12 radar display consoles and associated system, would cost more than a billion pesos, Ciron said.

The new radar console display would be able to receive signals from three long-range radars in Laoag, Tagaytay and Cebu and process the inputs in Manila for countrywide radar coverage of all incoming and outgoing flights within the Flight Information Region.

At the same time, Ciron announced that flight operations at the country’s premier airport were restored as of 8 a.m. yesterday.

Ciron had a lengthy discussion with President Arroyo in Villamor Air Base last Tuesday about the incident and the steps taken to remedy the situation. –

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