Expert panel to advise on new ATC system
Hong Kong’s civil aviation authority has set up a fivemember expert panel to provide advice on irregularities concerning the new air traffic control (ATC) system, the city’s aviation chief announced on Thursday.
The move was made after the contractor of the new system had handed in reports on two recent radar black-outs and offered solutions to opti- mize the system.
Director-General of Civil Aviation Simon Li Tin-chui told reporters on Thursday five experts were appointed to join a panel to offer views to the Civil Aviation Department (CAD). They started their one-year term on Thursday.
The experts include former director-general of civil aviation from 1998 to 2004 Albert Lam Kwong-yu, a spokesman for the Aircraft Division of Hong Kong Institution of Engineers Warren Chim Wing-nin, as well as a local and two overseas experts.
On Tuesday, outbound flights from Hong Kong were suspended for 15 minutes after the ATC system’s flight data processor failed to show flight details for 26 seconds. On Nov 15, flight signals also disappeared for about 12 seconds. No accident happened during these black-outs.
The failure happened when one of the operators in the control tower tried to retrieve playback data from the system for research. It triggered the auto-protection mode and switched the signals to the back-up older system, putting the new system offline, according to a report released by the CAD.
After a 15-minute check, the authority found the systems were functioning normally. There had been no loss or corruption of flight plan data during the incident. Moreover, no personnel should be held responsible for the error, Li said.
Meanwhile, flights during the upcoming holiday season won’t be affected as the service provider had identified ways to fix the problem, Li said.
The United States-based ATC system company Raytheon announced that they would optimize the system, enabling it to keep the established associations between targets and flight plans. This is so server-to-server synchronization could be handled in parallel with other tasks the server is processing, according to the report.