Monday, 25 June 2012

DCA admits ‘minor glitches’ in ATC system

June 25, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, June 25 — The Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has admitted that an air traffic control (ATC) system installed just six months ago has experienced “minor glitches” despite the Transport Ministry insisting “no incidents” have been reported.

The department said in a letter sent to PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar (picture) dated June 13 that it has “acknowledged all the minor glitches voiced and addressed them.”

“DCA has held five meetings with Selex from January to May 2012 to monitor developments of the upgrade of the new system,” the department’s director general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said.

The Transport Ministry had insisted on June 12 the system was performing well in a written reply to parliamentary question by the Lembah Pantai MP on the system supplied by Advanced Air Traffic System (AAT), a joint venture involving Selex.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the system cost RM128.4 million and has been “performing well with no incidents caused by it.”

“The system supplied by the said supplier fulfils standards recommended by the international regulatory body, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO),” the Lumut MP said.

According to a company search produced by Nurul Izzah, AAT is co-owned by Selex, which supplies the system, and two local firms, Tahap Harmoni and Tirai Variasi, the latter controlling half the joint venture.

She has also repeatedly called on the Transport Ministry to explain why the RM128.4 million air traffic control system contract was given through a “closed tender”, claiming the system has been rife with defects immediately after it was installed.

The opposition MP said early this month the system installed at the National Air Traffic Control Centre (NATCC) was “so flawed controllers revert to the old system of not using radar,” putting the lives of millions of passengers at risk.

“It is definitely dangerous if radar is not functioning properly because plane positions are wrong,” she had said, although she added mitigating measures could be taken by controllers of Malaysia’s airspace which serves hundreds of millions of passengers annually.

According to documents produced by PKR purported to be correspondence between the DCA and the supplier, the system was rife with errors, including “inconsistency in cleared flight level.”

However, one letter, dated December 21, 2011, also show that the contractor promised to fix defects in the radar system supplied to the NATCC by March this year.

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