VOR fixed, But no ILS yet

By Recto Mercene
July 8, 2010

Manila - THE crucial navigational aid VOR (VHF Omnidirectional range) was put back on the air at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, 17 days after it conked out due to wear and tear.

The announcement was broadcast worldwide to all major airports via the Notice-to-airmen (Notam) by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap).

“The VOR of the airport navigational facilities is now serviceable,” said Caap Director General Alfonso Cusi at a press conference.

He said the Navaid was flight-tested from 7 to 9 a.m. by a Beechcraft “King Air” B200, flying around the airport above the VOR at 2,000 feet, checking every 10 degrees the accuracy of the signal.

Capt. Gilbert Bautista, a veteran pilot of the King Air Beechcraft, did the flight-checking, assisted by five other technical experts, Cusi said.

With the VOR’s restoration, airplanes on instrument flight would be able to come near and make an attempt to land on runway 24 at a minimum altitude of 500 feet and visibility at 3 to 4 kilometers before seeing the runway.

If using runway 06, a pilot could fly as low as 400 feet and as near the runway as 3 to 4 km to be able to see the runway; otherwise, the pilot aborts his landing and makes another try.

Cusi said that since the VOR was switched on, 75 domestic and international flights were able to land safely, from 11 a.m. until 1:45 p.m.

The VOR conked out after 14 years of continuous service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It has a shelf life of 15 years. That, coupled with the poor to zero visibility alternately caused by thunderstorms and a haze, had caused some flights to be delayed, canceled or diverted to Clark airport.

After weeks of on-off operations, with the equipment undergoing repairs with parts cannibalized from the Subic VOR, a team of European experts flew into Manila last week, bringing with them the parts purchased in Germany.

Five European engineers were invited by the Caap to look into the VOR problem, and also to replace the defective parts.

Cusi said that even if the VOR malfunctions again, the Caap has in place the Required Area Navigation (RNAV) system, a satellite-based means of navigating and landing that is more accurate than the VOR.

He said the RNAV’s activation had already been broadcast worldwide via the Notam, and that local air carriers have been advised to adjust the compatible equipment aboard their planes to be able to carry out navigation and landing procedures safely.

According to Cusi, the Caap is requesting for a new VOR replacement as soon as possible so that in case of a breakdown, there would be more than one navigational aid that could back up the RNAV.

He said the instrument landing system (ILS) would be installed and ready for use by end-July.

At the same time, Cusi said Caap will bill the Manila International Airport Authority (Miaa) for the expenses incurred in flight checking, calibrating and repairing the VOR.

“We have to bill the Miaa since the Caap is already a government-owned and -controlled corporation,” he added, saying that one of the functions of the new aviation body is to raise revenues to fund its operations, secure more money to pay its technical experts and thousands of employees.

Cusi ordered the chief of the Air Traffic Service and the Air Navigational Service to activate all the other RNAVs in the Philippines located in Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Bacolod, Clark and Subic.


  1. Tests of the ILS system began in 1929, and the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) authorized installation of the system in 1941 at six locations. The first landing of a scheduled U.S. passenger airliner using ILS was on January 26, 1938, as a Pennsylvania Central Airlines Boeing 247-D flew from Washington, D.C., to Pittsburgh and landed in a snowstorm using only the Instrument Landing System. The first fully automatic landing using ILS occurred at Bedford Airport UK in March 1964. It is 2010, a full 46 years after and the Philippines still does not an operational ILS in its international airport?

  2. They do have an ILS since 1981. they were replaced in 1996 and would have been replace again this year but unfortunately, its life expectancy ended one year in advance. Thanks to the flood that ripped this country last year.

  3. why they keep on replacing hardware infrastructure??? whereas the problem occurred due to human problem or stupidity.

    why they DONT replace people who are incompetent and not doing his/her job well?? thats the problem with 15/30 employees... now you see, now you dont.