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Air Traffic Management System Expert Panel holds second meeting
     The Air Traffic Management System (ATMS) Expert Panel held its second meeting today (January 18). Prior to the meeting, expert panel members visited the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Centre and ATC Tower to appreciate more about the operations of the new ATMS. They also met with frontline air traffic control officers (ATCOs) and electronics engineers to solicit their comments on operating the new ATMS.

     Expert panel members at the meeting today included local representatives Ir Warren Chim, Mr Albert Lam and overseas representative the Chairman of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Asia Pacific Regions Air Traffic Management Sub-Group, Mr Kuah Kong Beng. Another overseas representative, the President of the National School of Civil Aviation in France, Mr Marc Houalla, joined the meeting via tele-conference. Professor Man Hau-chung was not able to attend the meeting today.

     During the meeting, officers of the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) reported to the expert panel members on the operations of the new ATMS since the first meeting on December 16, 2016, including the incident in which some functions of the Electronic Flight Strips System installed at the ATC Tower were temporarily and intermittenly affected, and the occurrence when two planner positions temporarily could not adjust the operation configuration. Both occurrences were made known to the public by the CAD earlier. Expert panel members agreed that the two occurrences did not undermine aviation safety nor affect the operations of the new ATMS. The expert panel suggested the CAD continue urging the ATMS contractor, Raytheon Company, to optimise the operations of the new ATMS.

     The expert panel also met with the chairman/president and representatives of the CAD Electronics Engineers' Branch of Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants' Association and the Hong Kong Air Traffic Control Association. The expert panel invited them to provide comments and experiences in operating the new ATMS. The electronics engineers' representatives informed the expert panel that the teething issues arising from the initial commissioning period of the new ATMS is unavoidable in the transition of any large-scale and complicated ATMS. The ATCOs' representatives said that they have gradually adapted to different functionalities of the new system, and have become more competent and confident in operating the new ATMS by now. The representatives provided constructive feedbacks to the expert panel and made suggestions to optimise the ATMS from the perspective of actual operation. The expert panel agreed to consider in collaboration with the CAD management.

     Summing up the meeting today, the expert panel considered that safety performance of the new ATMS, so far, exceeded international requirements. However, given the relatively short period of time since the commissioning of the new system, the CAD was urged to continue to optimise the operating procedures and system operations in order to enable the system to outperform international requirements. The expert panel members also pointed out that as the new ATMS is a large-scale and complicated comprehensive computer system, minor setbacks would occur intermittently for different reasons (including human factors) such as, for instance, the recent temporary interruption of display of arriving aircraft sequencing information of the Arrival Manager System (AMAN) due to human factors and the temporary interruption of the Voice Communication Switching System (VCSS). Raytheon Company does not supply either the VCSS or the AMAN. These minor setbacks did not affect the operations of the ATMS, and neither did they affect ATC operations or aviation safety. After evaluating the relevant occurrences, the expert panel members concurred that the CAD had put in place an effective and established mechanism for responding to different situations occurring after the full commissioning of the new ATMS in accordance with international best practices and the ICAO's safety management process. The expert panel learnt that the CAD had already explained to its staff in a timely manner the causes of the occurrences and the necessary corrections, thus pooling wisdom to improve future operations. Furthermore, the expert panel members suggested that the CAD should foster communications between the system's supplier and frontline staff continuously in order to resolve any teething problems progressively.
     The expert panel members will hold another meeting next month. After collating and summing up all the information, an interim report is expected to be made in March or April this year.

     The expert panel's terms of reference are to provide objective and expert advice to the Director-General of Civil Aviation on teething issues arising from the commissioning of the new ATMS and the necessary optimisation work; and to share with the CAD international experience and best practices in relation to the long-term optimisation of new ATMS. The members are appointed for a one-year term till November 30, 2017.
Ends/Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 21:25
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