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Air Traffic Management System Expert Panel holds last meeting
     The Air Traffic Management System (ATMS) Expert Panel set up by the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) held its last meeting today (November 21) and confirmed the final report to sum up its finding and recommendations after a year-long review of the various aspects of the ATMS since its full commissioning on November 14, 2016.

     During the meeting, the expert panel confirmed the content of the final report, which stated that the overall performance of the new ATMS was satisfactory and smooth after a run-in period. It has effectively enhanced aviation safety and acquired international recognition. The front-line staff also became more conversant with the operation and maintenance of the system. Since its full commissioning, the new ATMS has been providing safe, reliable and generally smooth round-the-clock air traffic control (ATC) services for more than one year. The system performance has testified that the new ATMS is capable of handling all weather, traffic peaks and contingency situations. Furthermore, record-breaking figures of flights handled by the new ATMS have been registered. The CAD was announced the recipient of the annual Global Safety Achievement Award 2017 by the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation in recognition of the CAD's contribution to the improved safety level and increased efficiency in the provision of air navigation services in the Hong Kong Flight Information Region (HKFIR) by implementing the new ATMS. The Expert Panel recognised that the award has not only affirmed the performance of the ATMS and the CAD's professional staff, but would have a positive impact on the long-term development of the aviation industry in the Asia-Pacific region.

     Bearing in mind the actual experience overseas, the Expert Panel reviewed all of the occurrences that the ATMS experienced during the run-in period. Concerning the follow-up actions and remedial measures taken in response to each occurrence, the Expert Panel conducted multifaceted in-depth reviews and made a number of recommendations. The Expert Panel was of the view that safety was never compromised and all issues had been duly addressed. It was satisfied with the implementation progress of the recommendations, and commended the CAD's staff for their professional performance and work quality.

     The Expert Panel specifically discussed the aircraft surveillance issues, namely split tracks, false targets and instances of an aircraft's position being temporarily not displayed. They noted that, as a result of the progressive deployment of Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast technology within the HKFIR as initially planned, and the ongoing fine-tuning or optimising of the operation and technical procedures, the number of occurrences has been significantly reduced. When compared with the initial stage of operation of the new ATMS, the figures for split tracks, false targets and aircraft positions not being displayed temporarily have decreased from 3.4, 8.6 and 1.9 to 0, 1.3 and 0.3 per week respectively between August and mid-November 2017. The performance of the ATMS exceeded international requirements, and was also within expectations and in line with experiences of the air navigation service provider overseas.

     "I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Expert Panel members for their valuable time and effort over the past year in looking at the optimisation of the new ATMS and producing this report. They have also made a number of constructive recommendations, which are consistent with our objectives and development plan. The CAD is fully committed to put forward the recommendations, with an aim of continuously optimising the ATMS as well as ATC services. The CAD will continue to safeguard aviation safety, improve our services and reinforce Hong Kong's status as an international aviation hub," the Director-General of Civil Aviation, Mr Simon Li, said.

     "I would also like to take this opportunity to thank all CAD colleagues, particularly the Air Traffic Control Officers, engineers and the professional maintenance staff, for their dedicated service. Together, they have accomplished the arduous task of replacing the ATMS. We will strive for further excellence and continue the optimisation work of the ATMS, so as to provide safe and reliable ATC services to the public," he added.

     The Expert Panel considered that, in the long run and in light of the challenges brought about by fast growing air traffic, particularly with the expansion of Hong Kong International Airport, the ATMS and other ATC systems have to be optimised and enhanced when circumstances warrant - for instance, to meet the latest requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization, to enhance efficiency by introducing new features progressively according to operational necessity, to review and formulate a long-term ATC manpower plan, and to keep up the CAD's internal and external communication with relevant parties in a timely manner. All this could help strengthen the position of Hong Kong as a regional and international aviation hub. Noting that the CAD initiated the formation of the international users group of AutoTrac III, the Expert Panel encouraged the CAD to make best use of the working group in further optimising the new ATMS system in Hong Kong. With the CAD's ongoing efforts, the Expert Panel is confident that the system will continue to provide stable services and its performance will continue to meet relevant international standards.

     The CAD set up the Expert Panel in December last year for a one-year term from December 2016 to November 2017. The Panel comprises local and overseas experts and academics in the fields of air traffic management, engineering and aviation safety management to offer independent advice to the CAD on the teething issues identified since full commissioning of the new ATMS. 

     The final report is available on the CAD's website: www.cad.gov.hk/english/reports.html.

     Expert panel members at the meeting today included Mr Warren Chim, Mr Albert Lam, Professor Man Hau-chung and Mr Kuah Kong Beng. Mr Marc Houalla was not able to fly to Hong Kong to attend the meeting today, but he has approved the content of the report.
Ends/Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Issued at HKT 19:12
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