July 2, 2010
TWO NAVI AIDS WILL BOOST PHILIPPINE AVIATION
SENATOR Ramon Bong Revilla, Jr. today said the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is gearing towards satisfying International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard as our local aviation authority established a new satellite-based navigational system as alternative to 14-year-old Very High Frequency Omni-directional Radio Range (VOR), which conked out two weeks ago resulting to flight cancellations and leaving thousands of passengers stranded.
Meanwhile, Wilfredo Borja, Air Traffic Service director, clarified that they have to shut down the VOR last Monday and Wednesday afternoon in order to replace defective parts of the said navigational aid.
In a report to Bong Revilla, Borja said that the parts of the navigational equipment have arrived and the German technicians installed the parts on the busted VOR. He assured Bong Revilla that the same is now operational.
Aside from VOR, the senator was told that the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) also activated the Required Area Navigation (RNAV) system, a navigation procedure that uses the Ground Positioning System (GPS) with the help of satellites.
The senator said the NAIA has now two navigational aids. He explained that the MIAA did not spend money in activating RNAV.
"No new equipment was purchased and the satellites are already available," he said, adding that the satellite-supported RNAV is an efficient alternative to VOR, in case it fails again.
According to Borja the air traffic comptroller is all set for RNAV system. They are just waiting for the airlines to configure their aircraft in order conform with the new system.
As this developed, Bong Revilla exhorted the MIAA and the CAAP to study if it is still needed to buy a new VOR, which is worth P90 to P120 million.
"More airports around the world are now using RNAV and gradually they are removing the ground-based VORs. There are also predictions that VOR will be obsolete in the next few years," Bong Revilla, chairman of Congressional Oversight Committee on CAAP, said.
He added that his committee and the MIAA and the CAAP still have to weigh the options, which he said should lean towards the safety of air passengers.
"If it is decided that VOR is really not that needed because of the activation of RNAV, I recommend that the P90 million which is supposed to be used for purchasing new navigational equipment should be used as funds for trainings of NAIA IT and technical personnel," the senator suggested.
Early this year, ICAO underscored that NAIA needs to hire and recruit qualified technical personnel (QTP) - one of the eight critical elements of aviation safety oversight.
"Meeting ICAO standard is the key so that other aviation regulator, like Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency, will give us a passing mark," he said, adding "having efficient navigational aids and competent technical personnel might lead the way to lifting negative travel advisories against the Philippines."
"It will have economic consequences in our country as it will generate more jobs from tourism and investments," Bong Revilla said.
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