Ex­pert panel to ad­vise on new ATC sys­tem

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By LUIS LIU in Hong Kong luis­liu@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

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.

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