Air Traffic Management System Expert Panel holds sixth meeting

     The Air Traffic Management System (ATMS) Expert Panel set up by the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) held its sixth meeting today (September 27). After being briefed on the recent operation of the ATMS, the expert panel members were satisfied with the good overall performance of the ATMS. The expert panel appreciated that the CAD will continue to review the ATMS and its sub-systems in accordance with the requirements of international aviation safety management.

     With regard to the occurrences experienced by the new ATMS during the initial stage of operation as discussed in the last meeting, including momentary hitches experienced with the Flight Data Processors, the Arrival Manager System and the Tower Electronic Flight Strips System, the CAD provided detailed updates to the expert panel on the progress of various forms of optimisation and follow-up work in today's meeting. Over the past three months, the new ATMS has been operating stably without hitches. It proved that the CAD, together with the system contractor and the suppliers of the sub-systems, had taken effective follow-up measures to address the issues. The expert panel members were of the view that the overall performance of the new ATMS was satisfactory after the running-in period and the front-line staff had become more conversant with the operation and maintenance of the system.

     The expert panel noted that the air traffic movements handled by the new ATMS after the transition have continuously increased. The system has successfully coped with the peak air traffic flow since the end of 2016 and has overcome the challenges posed by adverse weather. The overall performance of the system continued to be safe, reliable and stable.

     The expert panel noted that the CAD has taken an extra effort to set up an international users group for the ATMS (Users' Group) and the first meeting was held last week at the CAD Headquarters. Participants of the meeting included the international users of the ATMS supplied by Raytheon Company, namely the civil aviation authorities in Dubai and India; experts from the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States; and the management of the ATMS supplier. The international users discussed their operational and technical experience over the years, international best practice and future development. They also exchanged information related to the system enhancement works completed or being carried out in order to meet the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)'s latest requirements and their respective operational requirements, with a view to enhancing operational efficiency for coping with the expected growth in air traffic. The meeting concluded that the AutoTrac III users were in general satisfied with the overall performance of the ATMS and concurred that closer co-operation among the users would help improve the system performance effectively and continually. The expert panel members considered that the Users' Group platform was very constructive and expressed the belief that through the sharing of experience of international users, the CAD could further optimise the new ATMS system in Hong Kong.

     The expert panel was pleased to note that the cold standby phase of the old ATMS smoothly ended on July 14. The old Air Traffic Control (ATC) Centre and south ATC Tower have been vacated to accommodate the upcoming expansion of the new ATC equipment to the old ATC Complex for backup purposes.

     Subsequent to the discussion on loss of standard separation incidents during the third Expert Panel Meeting, the CAD invited the expert panel to review the loss of standard separation incidents since then. The expert panel members noted that the new ATMS issued the predictive conflict alert and/or conflict alert in each incident in a timely manner as per the system design. The expert panel members noted that, as in other regions of the world, the loss of standard separation incidents were attributable to a diverse range of factors, including inclement weather, operating procedures and human factors. After considering the relevant safety performance statistics presented by the CAD, they were of the view that the relevant statistics continued to compare favourably to those recording the performance in other international locations.

     All of 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.

Ends/Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:30