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CAD responds to media enquiries on new ATMS
     In response to media enquiries today (October 28) on the new Air Traffic Management System (ATMS), a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) said:

     Since the commencement of the phased functional implementation (PFI) of the new ATMS on June 19, 2016, its operating time and scope of service coverage have been expanding progressively as scheduled for some four months in a safe, stable and reliable manner. During the process, both good and adverse weather, as well as day and night operations have been covered. The overseas independent consultant appointed by the Transport and Housing Bureau (THB) also considered the new ATMS safe and reliable. The use of the new ATMS has now expanded to cover all control positions and functions in the Air Traffic Control (ATC) Tower and the new ATC Centre. The ATC staff have also become more familiar with the operations of the new ATMS.

     To facilitate the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, the ATC staff has to input some non-routine command or scenario data into the new ATMS, inducing activation of the designed protective measures of the system among a small number of workstations not used for direct communication with flights. As a result, the input / scenario was temporarily not processed in the usual manner. There are allegations saying the controllers attempted to use the new ATMS to process the non-routine command or scenario data, and all the multiple layers of fallback systems also failed, which are not factual.  In addition, except the small number of workstations, the whole new ATMS and other workstations operated normally.  As a matter of fact, the CAD has already switched the operation of live traffic back to the existing ATMS immediately, before switching to the fallback systems, in accordance with established procedures, which have been endorsed by the overseas independent consultant appointed by the THB and in line with the safety management principles. The ATC operation has been maintained in a safe, smooth and seamless manner throughout the incident.

     The CAD stressed that, to safeguard aviation safety, the whole ATMS consists of multiple layers of fallback systems and they are running simultaneously at all times ready for immediate backup. The multiple layers of fallback systems were running normally throughout the PFI yesterday. The reason for switching back to the existing ATMS was that there was another full team of ATC staff using the existing ATMS to mimic air traffic handling during the whole PFI session, which is one of the said established procedures of the PFI.

     Upon investigation, the CAD identified the root cause of the issue soon afterwards, and would follow up and implement enhancement on the data processing. Meanwhile, the CAD will continue to implement the PFI as scheduled, arrange additional training for ATC staff as necessary, as well as make a final assessment on the actual experience gained, staff readiness and resource needs etc with an aim to launch the new system as planned.

     The slot adjustment plan during peak hours in the final transitional period (i.e. for the four weeks starting from the end of October this year) will remain unchanged.

     The new ATMS is designed to meet the latest international standards on technical, safety and ATC operational requirements. The CAD has conducted stringent acceptance tests on the new ATMS in accordance with international aviation safety management standards and established Government procedures, in order to ensure that the system operation is in full compliance with the contract conditions and safety management requirements. The new ATMS will be launched only when we have attained a high level of system and staff readiness.
Ends/Friday, October 28, 2016
Issued at HKT 21:38
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