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Hong Kong : New Air Traffic Management System maintains smooth operation on full commissioning.

The New Air Traffic Management System (ATMS) of the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) has been operating smoothly since its full commissioning earlier today (November 14). The Director-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Mr Simon Li, said, "Thanks to the untiring commitment and professionalism of the CAD staff, especially the Air Traffic Control (ATC) and the electronic engineering staff, by conducting thorough preparations, the full transition to the new ATMS has been smooth today. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all CAD staff again. The CAD would also like to thank the aviation community and the general public for their understanding and support in helping the CAD adjust the number of arrivals and departures at the Hong Kong International Airport at peak hours during the transition of the ATMS. This will facilitate a smooth transition under the most optimal conditions.

"Despite the incident late last month during the phased functional implementation (PFI), in which a very small number of workstations could not process certain non-routine data, the CAD has quickly rectified the problem. The overseas independent consultant of the Transport and Housing Bureau (THB), the National Air Traffic Services (NATS), also re-confirmed its assessment that the CAD was ready for full transition to the new ATMS. For details of the NATS' conclusion, please refer to its reports submitted to the THB. To safeguard aviation safety, the CAD decided to commission the new ATMS in full only after a high level of system and staff readiness had been attained.

Regarding a few newspapers which today quoted a source who claimed to be an air traffic controller (ATCO), alleging that the CAD has achieved a 100 per cent satisfactory rate in a staff readiness survey on using the new ATMS by compelling ATCOs to change the grading in their self-assessment, and threatening to demote or not to promote them if they didnt comply, Mr Li rejected the allegation as totally unfounded and regrettable. The allegation was also unfair to the professional ATCOs, especially in light of their constant endeavours in the past few months, he added.

"All the ATCOs in the CAD have undergone rigorous assessment before operating the new ATMS. On top of that, they indicated through self-assessment that they are all ready and confident to use the new system to handle live traffic. During the PFI, the CAD distributed a questionnaire to ATCOs to learn more about their readiness to operate the new ATMS. The Department also encouraged them to reflect their views should there be a need to strengthen training in any particular aspect or should there be any other needs. We clearly explained the purpose of the survey to all ATCOs. It is an international practice to conduct an assessment and survey of staff readiness on a named basis during a transition of ATC systems, in order to accurately assess staff readiness and, more importantly, to offer appropriate help and assistance to address the diverse needs of ATCOs. This arrangement has been endorsed by the NATS as well," he said.

With regard to the arrangements on self-assessment, the CAD management never exerted any pressure on the ATCOs. The management expressed its support and understanding to any request from individual colleagues for more training. Appropriate arrangements have been made in this regard. The training time and types of training (including the self-assessment survey on a named basis) received by ATCOs have been similar to ATC centres elsewhere.

There is an established mechanism regarding the promotion of ATCOs. Each promotion is made on the basis of merit including individual performance, competence and experience. The return of self-assessment during the transition of the ATMS is not one of the factors to be considered in this regard. The CAD management has maintained close contact and communication with the staff, including the staff union, to clarify their doubts and queries over the issue. If individual staff members still have misgivings despite the above-mentioned established mechanism, worrying that they could not properly or effectively address their concern, they can always approach the DGCA, the management of the CAD or bureaux concerned.

Since the commencement of 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 conditions, as well as day and night operations have been covered. The ATC staff have also become more familiar with the operation of the new ATMS. The new ATC System comprises eight system contracts, of which the new ATMS was the last one to be implemented. The other seven systems, namely the Air Traffic Services Data Management System, the Aeronautical Information Management System, the Aeronautical Messaging System, the Communication Backbone, the Communications and Recording System, the Relocation and Expansion of ATS Message Handling System, and the Ancillary and Technical Support System have been completed and commissioned in phases since 2013.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Nov 15, 2016
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