By Raissa Robles
The takeoff and landing of planes at the runways of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport complex is now “going beyond safe limits” at times, a high government official casually told me during an interview on another topic.
I was shocked when the official said that. But at that time last month, I did not realize the gravity of the situation. That is, until I saw a news item in today’s Philippine Daily Inquirer, quoting Transport Secretary Jose de Jesus as saying that private planes and trainer planes may be relocated to Sangley Point, Cavite, to ease air traffic congestion.
The report said that:
Congestion on Naia’s runways has led to constant flight delays of as long as 80 minutes, usually with planeloads of passengers sitting idle on the tarmac at the country’s premier international airport.
NAIA has only two runways – the longer one (3,737 m) for planes as large as A380 and a secondary runway (2,258 m), mainly for local flights.
Waiting for your plane? That’s still tolerable. What isn’t tolerable are the following frightening statistics I was told by the official. I can’t say by who, but it’s not Secretary De Jesus nor anybody inside the presidential palace.
The government official told me that during peak hours:
- Takeoffs and landings are less than one minute apart.
- There are even times that there are 36 landings per hour – or landings less than two minutes apart.
- And even as many as 45 landings per hour – or one landing every 80 seconds.
It boggles the mind how our air traffic controllers are able to prevent disasters on a daily basis. I know we have some of the best air traffic controllers in the world. But they are overworked. I hope the government looks into this problem with utmost urgency.
Here is Inquirer’s full report – Private hangars, flight schools may be transferred to Cavite
Romeo Victor says
I say that if not for the technical competence of the people who operate (ATC/COMS) and maintain (ANSS/APT) our airways facilities, a lot of lives could have been lost due to air traffic accidents.
Almost twenty years after I left the service, the same problems still exist in CAAP. Unless we get rid of corrupt and incompetent political appointees and appoint a “real manager” who knows his craft to head CAAP, the same thing will happen and nothing is solved. No wonder we were downgraded by FAA and can’t increase our flights to the US and EU.
The last time I checked and visited my former colleagues, I saw the newly constructed Area Control Center (ACC) that can not be utilized due to many problems among them interfacing with the existing radar system. It’s a waste of taxpayer money and could have been avoided with proper planning and project management. And the people responsible for this? One was immediately retired and the other resigned and migrated somewhere in North America.
At the very core. our problem has always been corruption.
Pirate Hunter says
kudos to our very PATRIOTIC AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLERS!!!
Raissa, you would be more enlightened on what’s happening in the aviation system there if you can talk to people who had left the ATC services since early ’80s….
we are very grateful there are fellows who opt to stay behind to man the antiquated or inappropriate systems being purchased by those who doesn’t know about technology trend….
but mind you, anytime they got an opportunity to leave, they (ATCs) leave anytime…..
hey fellas…..keep the Philippine sky safe….
Norman Sison says
Hi, Raissa. Thanks for bringing this up. Last Friday my family and I arrived from vacation in Malaysia. Our plane arrived early but we circled for about 30 minutes before we were cleared to land. My gut told me that something was happening. I was right.
I wonder how long the government will tolerate this and seriously do something about it before we get a plane crash — and again earn world criticism for world-class incompetence.
mike romeo says
like we used to say before (until today it seems) “Low tech equipment, high tech controllers” . proud to have served with them…
Were you a former air traffic controller? where are you know?