Systems manager admits taking risk on opening

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 November, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 November, 1998, 12:00am

The Airport Authority had taken a risk in assuring the Government operations on opening day would be smooth, a senior official admitted yesterday.

Testifying before the Legco inquiry, authority airport management division terminal systems manager Vivian Karfay Cheung said operations were known to be imperfect on July 6.

The Airport Development Steering Committee led by Anson Chan Fang On-sang was assured a few days in advance that no major problems would threaten smooth and efficient operations.

Ms Cheung yesterday confessed that the undertaking she and other colleagues had given was based on the strong commitment by the manufacturer, Electronic Data Systems (EDS), that 38 outstanding system problems would be fixed.

Inquiry chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee said it was apparently 'wishful thinking' that the opening would be smooth.

In reply, Ms Cheung said: 'That's the risk we took. We saw the high level of commitment by EDS.' She said she had 90 per cent confidence in a manageable opening and was shocked by the severity of the problems.

Authority head of information technology Kiron Chatterjee was adamant he was right not to have started the stand-by system despite the chaos caused by the flight information display system.

He said there would have been more confusion had he endorsed the switch-over without first ascertaining the source of problems.

Ms Cheung, a computer scientist, said she would have made the same decision.

But she disagreed with Mr Chatterjee's claims that the systems had been adequately tested in other trials.

Mr Chatterjee said earlier that a pre-site acceptance test would have made up for the factory acceptance test cancelled due to lack of time.

'It compensated a bit but it didn't fully compensate,' Ms Cheung said, adding that some basic errors still cropped up after the trial.