Air Traffic Management System Expert Panel holds fifth meeting (with photos)
With regard to the momentary hitch experienced with the Flight Data Processors of the new ATMS' main system on April 8 due to the accumulation of users' preferences settings, the expert panel noted that a software fix has been implemented successfully in the new ATMS on May 15 and urged the CAD to continue to closely monitor the performance of the new ATMS and the effectiveness of the new software fix in fully addressing the issue. Furthermore, following careful evaluation, the expert panel confirmed that the data parameters with a preset limit in the new ATMS, other than the users' preferences setting, are far greater than the actual usage. The preset limits will not be reached and cause an issue under normal operation. In addition, there is an established protection mechanism in place. The new ATMS will either not accept additional inputs, reject further inputs or overwrite old inputs once the corresponding data parameters reach the preset limit.
The expert panel noted that there were some occasional occurrences of temporary setbacks of some sub-systems (such as the Arrival Manager System and the Tower Electronic Flight Strips System), which were independent from the old ATMS and have been enhanced by the new ATMS and incorporated into the new system. The expert panel acknowledged that aviation safety has not been undermined by the occurrences and urged the CAD to follow up with the contractor and the suppliers of the sub-systems to take necessary follow-up actions to address the issues. The expert panel also concurred that the CAD should continue to carry out regular housekeeping procedures for the system itself and all of its sub-systems as per the requirements of safety management.
During the meeting, the CAD also consulted the expert panel members on ending the cold standby mode of the old ATMS. According to the initial plan, the CAD would put an end to the cold standby mode of the old ATMS six months after the commissioning of the new ATMS, i.e. on May 14. According to the CAD's assessment, it will introduce additional and unnecessary operational risks as the Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) have to adapt themselves to different mode of operation of the old ATMS. Furthermore, the new Air Traffic Control (ATC) equipment needs to be extended to the old ATC centre as a backup of the new ATC system. This can only be done when the old ATC centre is vacated when the cold standby mode comes to an end.
The expert panel noted that the new ATMS has performed well during the peak air traffic flow of the festive periods at the end of 2016 and in early 2017 as well as under severe weather conditions since its commissioning. The average daily flight movements handled by the new ATMS since its full commissioning were 1 984, increased by 5.2 per cent when compared with the corresponding period a year earlier. This affirms the performance of the new ATMS and front-line ATCOs. After balancing all the considerations and noting the Safety Management System implemented by the CAD in accordance with requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the expert panel agreed that the CAD should put an end to the cold standby mode of the old ATMS after an extension of two months, i.e. on July 14.
With regard to the long-term optimisation of the new ATMS, the expert panel noted that the CAD had spearheaded the forming of an international user group for the AutoTrac III users (Users' Group). The ATC experts from Dubai and India and representatives of the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States have agreed to join the Users' Group to share operational and technical experience, and to enhance users' operations and map out the future system development roadmap. The expert panel supported the initiative, as it is a common international practice, and believed that it would help expedite the completion of optimisation work of the new ATMS system in Hong Kong.
All the expert panel members attended the meeting today, including local representatives Mr Warren Chim, Mr Albert Lam and Professor Man Hau-chung, as well the President of the National School of Civil Aviation in France, Mr Marc Houalla, and the Chairman of the ICAO Asia Pacific Regions Air Traffic Management Sub-Group, Mr Kuah Kong Beng, as overseas representatives. 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 the new ATMS.
Separately, the Deputy Regional Director of the ICAO Asia and Pacific Office, Mr Manjit Singh, accompanied by two senior officers responsible for air traffic management and communication, navigation and surveillance visited the CAD Headquarters today as invited by the CAD. The visitors were briefed on the operation of the new ATMS and they commended the CAD highly for the safe, efficient and quality air traffic management services, irrespective of whether the new or old ATMS was in use. They also relayed favourable comments on the air navigation services of Hong Kong from local and overseas airlines' management. They were of the view that the implementation of the highly advanced new ATMS in Hong Kong would create a positive and pioneering effect, which would stimulate air traffic volume and promote modern ATC management in the Asia-Pacific region.
Ends/Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Issued at HKT 20:17
Issued at HKT 20:17