Date
25 March 2017
Civil aviation officials brief legislators on the new air traffic management system in this May file picture. Photo: HK government
Civil aviation officials brief legislators on the new air traffic management system in this May file picture. Photo: HK government

CAD approves controversial traffic management system

Hong Kong civil aviation authorities have cleared a US-built traffic management system despite warnings about its reliability.

Ming Pao Daily is reporting that the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) concluded tests on Autotrac 3 (AT3), ignoring warnings from internal inspectors about the risks to aviation safety.

The HK$570 million (US$73.54 million) system was manufactured by US defense company Raytheon.

CAD ramped up tests on the system after being criticized for delays in its deployment.

An evaluation report last month to the Air Traffic Management Standards Office, which is in charge of monitoring system security, said a July 31 test showed “catastrophic failure”, meaning the system did not respond at all to data input by inspectors.

Under the purchase agreement, AT3 must pass four major tests and any failure calls for a reevaluation after the problem has been fixed.

However, an unnamed CAD employee said the department declared the tests over.

A CAD spokesman said the system failure found by in-house inspectors did not occur under normal conditions but was simulated for testing purposes.

There was no system crash, the spokesman said. A task force is studying the inspectors’ recommendations.

The evaluation report did not use words such as “dangerous” or “not fit for use”.

It said 90 percent of the issues required for preferential follow-ups had been dealt with.

Legislator Alan Leong, who sits on the public accounts committee, said he received complaints from CAD staff about the handling of the tests, particularly the department’s decision to set aside the contract provisions and speed up the tests

Leong said an independent consultant should be called to review the process.

– Contact us at [email protected]

TL/AC/RA

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe