Naia tower radars go blank; computer glitch delays flights

Naia tower radars go blank; computer glitch delays flights
WET GOOD-BYES: The dripping ceiling of a walkway at the departure area of the (supposedly) newly renovated Naia Terminal 1 is temporarily remedied by tarpaulins to keep passengers dry,

The control tower radars of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) bogged down for at least an hour on Wednesday, forcing delays on seven arriving flights, including one that needed to be diverted.

Around 10 a.m., flights were affected by the temporary shutdown of the primary and secondary surveillance radars, which detect and measure the position of approaching aircraft, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).

Air traffic controllers had to rely on just radio communication and visual contact to guide the pilots for a safe landing.

A flight from Incheon, South Korea, that was supposed to land on Terminal 2 had to be diverted to the Clark International Airport because of the glitch.

The radar operations were restored shortly after 11 a.m.

Past radar malfunctions at Naia usually occurred during bad weather. But according to CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio, what happened on Wednesday was "just a minor computer glitch. Fluctuations occasionally happen. CAAP did not find any damage to the radars that caused them to bog down."

Earlier this week, the country's premier gateway made embarrassing headlines due to the leaking roof at Terminal 1. Passengers had to be assisted by umbrella-holding airline staffers inside the terminal, which had supposedly undergone a P1.3-billion makeover following bad reviews by travelers and netizens who found it one of the worst in the world.

On Wednesday, Malacañang downplayed the faulty work on the roofs as a "temporary setback" and expressed confidence that the airport management would be able to do the necessary repairs.

"They may have run into some snags. But knowing the general manager of the Naia, if they see anything else that needs to be repaired then I am quite certain they will get on with the repairs,'' said deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte.

The P1.3-billion repairs at the Naia, particularly on the 30-year-old Terminal 1, is a major project of the Manila International Airport Authority headed by General Manager Angel Honrado.

DM Consunji Inc., the contractor for the airport rehabilitation, apologised for the leaks and said it would shoulder the cost of repairs.

In April, President Aquino toured the facility and lauded its transformation, saying he felt as though he had stepped into a different airport.

Valte noted that the deadline to complete the work in all passenger movement areas was last March. "They have made substantial progress not just in passenger movement areas but also all the other areas that are being [rehabilitated] as well," she said.

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