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CAD's statement
     A report in a Chinese-language newspaper today (May 30) alleged that a sub-system of the new Air Traffic Management System (ATMS), the Electronic Flight Strips (EFS) System, was susceptible to system crashing as it adopted a relatively outdated 32-bit operating system imposing an accessible limit of 4GB memory. In response to the report, the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) issued the following statement to set the record straight:

     The headline and content of the article do not reflect the actual situation.

     The new ATMS in the Air Traffic Control Centre (ATCC) and the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Tower has installed with the EFS System to provide flight plan information of departure and arrival flights, as well as flights overflying the Hong Kong Flight Information Region to the Air Traffic Control Officers. The report claimed that one EFS system is responsible for handling the aircraft movements on the apron while another EFS system for handling air traffic. This is not factually correct.

     The EFS System (both in the ATCC and the ATC Tower) adopted the mainstream and advanced 64-bit operating system, instead of 32-bit as alleged in the report. The Tower EFS System has installed with 16GB system memory supporting the simultaneous execution of many software programmes. It must be emphasised that the existing operating system is capable of handling the air traffic at present and in future after the three-runway-system commissions operation. The report alleged that the system can only use 4GB is totally unfounded.

     Each individual software programme of the EFS System normally takes up less than 2.5GB memory. The maintenance staff shall pay more attention whenever a programme takes up more than 2.5GB. The fact is that the memory of the EFS System is not limited to 2.5GB. Instead, it is an indication for the maintenance staff to enhance monitoring work on the system performance.

     The new ATMS (including the EFS System) is able to handle 8 000 flight plans per day and can simultaneously monitor 1 500 air or ground targets (five times and 1.5 times the old system respectively), making it capable of coping with future air traffic growth, including what would be brought about when the three-runway-system commissions operation. The new system can enhance the CAD's capability in air traffic management and the competitiveness of the Hong Kong International Airport in the region.

     The Tower EFS System was developed by an Austrian developer, Frequentis, and has already been put into operational use since 2012 when the old ATMS was in operation. It has been enhanced and incorporated into the new ATMS as one of its sub-systems when the new ATMS was launched. The new ATMS has been running on a 24-hour non-stop basis since its full commissioning. In the past six months, the new ATMS has overcome the challenges arising from peak air traffic flow of the festive periods at the end of 2016 and in early 2017 since its commissioning, which is a solid evidence of its performance.

     In accordance with international practice, recommendations of the system contractor as well as experience gained from the operation, the CAD has arranged the maintenance staff to carry out regular housekeeping procedures for all the sub-systems of the new ATMS, which include closely monitoring the real time performance and the functionality of all the sub-systems (including the EFS System); and carrying out all the checks and maintenance works at all the workstations in the new ATCC and the ATC Tower at appropriate intervals. The CAD is committed to ensuring aviation safety and has been proactively carrying out the necessary housekeeping procedures. The system automatically shows the relevant real time performance and status. The CAD will continue to take all the appropriate measures, including additional checks when necessary, to ensure that the equipment is kept operating safely, reliably and stably.
Ends/Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Issued at HKT 18:20
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