MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) expects the completion of the P13.25 billion world-class communication, navigation and surveillance system by 2015 or before the end of the term of President Aquino.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya said the joint venture between Sumitomo Corp. of Japan and Thales Australia Ltd. has committed to complete the Communications, Navigation and Surveillance/Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) Systems Development Project Package–I by November 2015.
“I don’t expect any further delay. I know the whole project is estimated to be done by November 2015,” Abaya said.
The CNS/ATM Systems Development Project was first conceptualized in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Global Air Navigation Plan, and would replace the aging vital communications, surveillance, and air traffic control equipment at selected airports nationwide.
The DOTC awarded the two work packages to Sumitomo-Thales joint venture.
The first package which entails the design and construction of the ATM Center and ATM Automation System, as well as the final integration of the whole CNS/ATM system was awarded in November 2010.
The second package which involves the design and construction of a surveillance and communication system was awarded in April 2011.
The CNS/ATM project aims to enhance safety, reliability and efficiency of air traffic and airspace systems in the Philippines. The existing air traffic control systems, navigation, communications and surveillance equipment in the country fall short of the required number, are aging and suffer from limitations.
However, the COA, in May 2011, suspended the advance payment of P58.92 million for the CNS/ATM Systems Development Project Package – I.
After a careful review, COA early last month lifted the notice of disallowance the advance payment by the DOTC.
DOTC spokesman Michael Arthur Sagcal, said the state-of-the-art systems would modernize aviation safety and security capabilities, increase airport capacity, and minimize flight delays and aircraft collisions by providing safety alerts and warnings, managing the use of the airspace and air traffic flow, and enhancing the communications and monitoring capabilities of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
Under the amended contract, the Sumitomo-Thales joint venture would immediately restart the construction of an air traffic management building and the supply of various components such as automation equipment and terminal radars, to enable the use of the satellite technology-based system.
The Philippines through the CAAP passed the audit conducted by ICAO of the United Nations from Feb. 18 to Feb. 22 resulting to the lifting of the remaining significant security concerns.
With the lifting of the safety concerns, the Aquino administration is confident that the Philippines would regain the US Federal Aviation Authority (US-FAA) Category 1 rating.
In 2008, the safety rating of the Philippines was downgraded by the US FAA upon the recommendation of the ICAO to Category 2 from Category 1 after CAAP failed to comply with safety standards for the oversight of air carrier operations.
Furthermore, the 27-member European Commission decided in April 2010 to impose a ban Philippine carriers from European airspace for the failure of the CAAP to reform the country’s civil aviation system.
Both bans that prevent airlines from the Philippines from mounting additional flights to the US and flying to countries in Europe are expected to be lifted within the second half of the year.