Top experts have given Hong Kong’s new air traffic control system the all clear

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 4:56pm
UPDATED : Monday, 21 November, 2016, 10:35pm

On November 14, the Transport and Housing Bureau announced its agreement to the Civil Aviation Department to fully commission the new Air Traffic Management System (ATMS).

The reports by its independent consultant from the UK, the National Air Traffic Service (NATS), one on the full transition and another on the incident on October 27, were also released. Our association fully supports the decision to launch the new ATMS and the comments in the NATS reports.

After the incident on October 27, during which a small number of workstations not used for direct communication with flights could not process some non-conventional flight plans, the Civil Aviation Department’s electronics engineers quickly identified the root cause of the issue. In parallel, they worked round the clock with the contractor to enhance the data processing and address the issue. As NATS pointed out in its report, the risk of a recurrence of what happened on October 27 is assessed as low. NATS maintains its view that the new ATMS is ready for full commissioning.

NATS complimented the department on the amount of professional work carried out to a detailed and achievable level in preparation for full transition and meeting all relevant recommendations, including those from previous assessments. NATS confirmed that the department had achieved a robust evidence-based approach and it was satisfied that the department was ready to proceed with full transition as planned. NATS has given its vote of confidence to the new ATMS and the department’s air traffic controllers. It also recognised the efforts and contribution of the department’s electronics engineers towards full implementation of the ATMS.

As a team of professional engineers, we are committed to maintaining aviation safety.

The new ATMS is designed to meet the latest international standards on technical, safety and air traffic control operational and maintenance requirements. The department has conducted stringent tests on the ATMS in accordance with international aviation safety management standards and established government procedures, in order to ensure that the system operation is in full compliance with the contract conditions and safety management requirements.

In future, we will continue to upkeep the functionality and safety of the new ATMS. Its advanced features and the department’s professional air traffic controllers will complement each other in further enhancing the department’s capability in air traffic management.

Joseph Ho, chairman, Civil Aviation Department Electronics Engineers’ Branch, Hong Kong Chinese Civil Servants’ Association