Manila ACC Blind

May 2, 2011

By Rainier Allan Ronda

MANILA, Philippines - An air traffic management system installed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), worth P511 million, does not meet international civil aviation standards, according to the results of a technical audit made by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

The audit, presented to the DOTC’s civil aviation officials during a meeting Friday, said the system has at least 20 major deficiencies or “non-conformity” to international aviation standards.

Technical personnel from the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) Aerodrome and Air Navigation Safety Oversight Office, who conducted the audit, warned DOTC officials that using the new Manila Area Control Center (ACC) may result in a disaster at the country’s major airports.

Two major airlines have alerted the CAAP to two “near-collisions” when the CAAP tested the system and used it to direct air traffic at the NAIA last March, they said.

The NAIA is currently using the old air traffic system, installed in the 1980s. When the old system broke down in 2009, the DOTC set up a $200-million Communications, Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) systems for the Philippine airport network, with the Manila ACC as the backup. Neither system is in use.

The CAAP Employees Union (EU) earlier said the Manila ACC project is one of the graft-ridden projects undertaken by the DOTC during the Arroyo administration.

“Our air controllers don’t want to use it because it is not working and is problematic and they don’t want to be responsible if a tragedy occurs in the NAIA or in the other airport when they use it,” a source said.

No safety, error checks

Among the serious deficiencies cited in the audit report is a lack of provisions to make the system “error-tolerant.” The system was never assessed for safety nor was it checked if it met the strict standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization, the CAAP auditors said.

The CAAP-EU said there were serious irregularities in the project, and money was wasted in funding the Manila ACC, a system found to be unserviceable and lacking in vital “interconnections.”

The CAAP-EU urged the Aquino administration to investigate the original P291-million contract to set up the Manila ACC in 2010. The group said the DOTC allegedly paid for additional revisions that added P220 million to the project cost.

The Aquino administration should scrutinize the contractor that bagged the project, the Revere Construction and Supply-CS Soft, Inc.-Enhanced Electronics Communications Services joint venture, based in San, Juan, Batangas, the CAAP-EU said.

The workers said the DOTC, at the time of the bidding for the project, was headed by Secretary Leandro Mendoza, a resident of San Juan, Batangas.

The CAAP-EU provided The STAR a copy of the notice issued by the DOTC for a public bidding of the project in June 2009, noting that the DOTC’s special bids and awards committee was headed by Mendoza’s classmate in the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) and fellow retired police general, Doroteo Reyes II, who he appointed as undersecretary for civil aviation.

Before he was appointed to the post of undersecretary post, Reyes served as Mendoza’s head executive assistant at the DOTC.

Reyes’ brother, Domingo Reyes Jr. – another PMA graduate and retired police general – was appointed by Mendoza and served for several years as DOTC assistant secretary for finance and comptrollership.

The Commission on Audit, in their 2009 audit of the DOTC, aired concerns on unnecessary costs of setting up the CNS/ATM and the new Manila ACC.


  1. yeah, that's what you get from appointing retired PMA yers. PMA- Philippine Magnanakaw Academy

  2. CAAP-EU?? do you know guys what are you talking?
    Many of you that againts the project are just a office employee not an ATC...