Starting The Year With Safety2023-01-03
On January 1, 2023, around 9:50 a.m., PH ATMC went silent for nearly 6 hours. There was no radar, radio communication, data link, or internet–it is every ATC and aviation stakeholder's worst nightmare. A scenario that no one has ever considered. The power supply problem that caused it, as well as the inconvenience it caused for many passengers whose flights were delayed or canceled, was widely reported later that day.
Without radar guidance and radio communications with ATCs on the ground, the planes in the air when the unfortunate event occurred were almost flying blind, increasing the likelihood of an untoward incident. Lives and property were on the line.
It was in the ATMC operations that every ATC on duty struggled to contact their ATC colleagues, using their mobile phones, from other ATC units such as Manila Tower (which was not affected by the outage), Towers in the provinces, ATCs in neighboring countries, and our aviation colleagues to relay what happened and coordinated the last known details of the flights and relayed ATC clearances to the flight crews. Contingency plans were initiated. Approach and en-route controllers were sent to the Manila Tower to utilize the spare frequency to provide approach control and en-route control services. Yes, all possible means will be used to ensure that all flights and their passengers land safely and return home to their families. And they did it, providing air traffic control and assisting flight crews in landing all aircraft that were flying that eventful day, showing their competence and professionalism.
When the situation calls for it, our Filipino ATCs are ready. Despite these circumstances, they began the year by ensuring safety and utmost service for the flying public.
Yup, they are just simply doing their job. Until their next shift.