Consultant to re-examine new air traffic system

The Secretary for Transport, Anthony Cheung, says an independent consultant has been invited to take another look at the airport’s new air traffic system, after it encountered serious errors during a trial run last week.

Cheung said the consultant, Britain’s National Air Traffic Services, had earlier deemed the AT3 system ready for use a week before the malfunction.

The HK$1.5 billion AT3 system is already delayed – it was supposed to replace the existing system at the end of 2012.

The Civil Aviation Department introduced the system alongside the existing system in June as part of a phased implementation, and had hoped to completely replace the old system by early November at the latest.

Cheung said authorities will decide on a final commissioning date based on the consultant’s report. But he said they do not intend to extend the system’s phased implementation into the peak Christmas season, as that would seriously affect air traffic.

“At the moment, we are still working on the original plan of full implementation sometime within November,” he said. But he added that the exact date for AT3’s implementation still has to be determined: “We have to be fully certain that system readiness [and] staff readiness are not at stake.”

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