Hong Kong's air traffic control system poses no flight safety issue

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 November, 2015, 4:37pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 November, 2015, 4:37pm

I refer to the article "Air cons required to prop up radar" (November 1). We would like to stress that the room temperature of the existing air traffic control centre of the Civil Aviation Department has all along been carefully monitored and has been set at a level to maintain the optimal operation of the air traffic control system.

The control centre operates round the clock. To ensure its effective, efficient and stable operation, it is important to maintain a constant, optimal room temperature to prevent the over-heating of the system. Since the airport opening in 1998, the control centre has been installed with an air conditioning system with downwind flow to provide a cooling environment. Over the years, with more equipment installed in the control centre, an additional air-conditioning system has been installed since 2012 to enhance airflow.

In view of colleagues' concern about the relatively low temperature in the control room, on top of the established mechanism to adjust the room temperature upon the request of supervisors, some enhanced measures (for example, temporarily turning off the additional air-conditioning system when the outside temperature is below 18 degrees Celsius) have been implemented since this January. This helps to keep the room temperature to between 21 and 23 degrees.

With the implementation of the new air traffic control system, separate air conditioning systems have been installed. Ventilation vents connected directly to the bottom of the air traffic control equipment will minimise disturbance to the staff while achieving energy-saving and maintaining a better balance between system operations and staff comfort.

Concerning the radar screen problems in the existing air traffic control system (the flight radar console screen freezes or the console crash as stated in your article), we would like to assure the public that the allegation that "the console doesn't tell you it freezes" as quoted in the article is unfounded.

Aviation safety is our top priority. The Civil Aviation Department has stepped up efforts to enhance its maintenance measures to address staff concerns. Through an enhancement exercise conducted last year, including by upgrading the workstations and optimising radar signal inputs, the issue involving the radar screen has seen a significant improvement and remains well within the margin of the safety performance indicator.

All of the department's air traffic controllers are highly trained and licensed to perform air traffic control duties. The safety of the aircraft will never be compromised.

Richard Wu, assistant director general of civil aviation (air traffic engineering services)