Air traffic mess: Ex-CAAP chief points to ‘unqualified’ personnel

January 3, 2023 - 6:48 PM
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TECHNICAL GLITCH. Passengers at NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay City queue at the check-in counter as it resumes its operation after Air Traffic Management Center of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines experienced a technical issue on Sunday (Jan. 1, 2023) However, on the official website of the Manila International Airport Authority, there are still international and domestic flights that have been canceled on Monday. (PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

A former executive of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines blamed unqualified authorities for the air traffic mess last Sunday.

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In an interview with DZRH, former CAAP Director General Daniel Dimagiba bared that the current management within CAAP lacked experts in the field of air navigation.

Dimagiba recalled that such a muddle within the organization started when the Department of Transportation acquired CAAP’s projects.

“Nung naging DOTr ang DOTC (Department of Transportation and Communications), lahat ng project ng CAAP, kinuha ng DOTr. Kaya wala silang espesyalista sa navigation. Meron silang civil engineer, mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, but wala silang navigation engineer, expert,” he said.

“Ang inuna kasi ng DOTr, puro ano e. Build, Build, Build. Buildings, Buildings. Yan ang inuna nila. Sa navigation, pinabayaan nila,” the former official also stated.

The “Build, Build, Build” is the main infrastructure project of the previous administration.

Dimagiba further described supposed “consultants” of the transport sector as “walang indoctrination,” or sufficient training, in aviation.

“Wala silang indoctrination. Indoctrination ng airworthiness, operations, license in engineering and aircraft accident. Kami pa nagtuturo sa mga consultant. Baligtad,” he said.

Dimagiba requested Malacañang to hire people who are qualified in the field to resolve the prevailing air transport issues.

“Sana ang higher up natin, ang Malacañang, maglagay naman ng qualified. Hindi basta kakilala, ilalagay mo. Ang nangyayari ngayon, puro kakilala ang nilalagay e,” he said.

How Filipinos reacted online

Several users sounded off their frustrations over the alleged nepotism and corruption even within the aviation sector.

“This is a typical problem in most agencies that require highly trained and experienced personnel. Positions are being handed out to ‘people’ of political allies and friends without regard to their qualifications, starting at the top,” one Redditor said.

“This is beyond infuriating as CAAP is endangering thousands of flight passengers because of its incompetence and greed. Is there still any government office doing its job honestly and properly?!” another Redditor said.

Other Filipinos also called for the government to investigate into these allegations within CAAP, DOTr and other related agencies.

On upgrading new equipment

In the same interview, Dimagiba said he received a report from a former air traffic controller that CAAP supposedly did not consider the request to upgrade the memory card of its systems.

He noted that this memory card holds the necessary data to keep up with the current air travel operations.

“May nagreport sakin na air traffic controller, retired… May pinabibili ang controller ng memory card sa head ng CAAP. Hindi iniintindi, hindi binili. Yung memory card na yun, andoon lahat ng system para mai-deliver sa mga airline,” Dimagiba said.

“Yung lumang ginagamit pa natin, hindi na suitable para sa new operations. Kasi marami ng flights ngayon e,” he added.

The former CAAP executive also said that he received another report claiming a piece of equipment with a huge budget did not materialize.

“Meron pang isa. May nagsumbong pa sakin. Na yung navigation communication parallel system, naka-budget ng ilang million. Hindi daw nabili. Ewan ko… kung nasunog ang pera, di malaman,” Dimagiba said.

Current CAAP Director General Manuel Tamayo said in a previous briefing that the technology it is using is “outdated.”

“Now, our CNS/ATM (Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Systems for Air Traffic Management) was conceptualized way back in the late 90s’, naumpisahan ‘to I think 2010, and finally, it was completed in 2018.  So medyo — as far as the technology is concerned — it is already outdated,” Tamayo was quoted in a report.

The former head, however, reacted with disbelief at this admission.

“Kalokohan yun. Ang radar natin perfect. Meron tayong primary, meron tayong secondary radar. Lahat yan perfect yan. Mga technician natin, mag engineers natin, okay yan. Highly trained yan. Highly professional,” Dimagiba said.

The full exclusive interview can be watched here EXCLUSIVE | Nakausap ng #DamdamingBayan si dating Civil Aviation Authority Dir. Gen. Daniel Dimagiba.