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Official findings on Jan. 1 airspace shutdown expected on Feb. 15 —DOTr

An inter-agency investigating team is expected to release its report on the New Year’s Day airspace shutdown on February 15, Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista said Monday.

“We have organized an investigating team composed of people from the DICT and from NBI, NICA and DOTr and we have given ourselves a deadline of February 15 to come up with the official findings,” Bautista said in a press conference after he accompanied several senators on an inspection of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines’ Air Traffic Management Center Monday morning.

The inspection was led by Senator Grace Poe as part of the Senate Committee on Public Services' inquiry into the air traffic management system outage that closed Philippine airspace on January 1, disrupting hundreds of flights and inconveniencing thousands of air passengers.

Poe was accompanied by Senate President Miguel Zubiri, Majority Leader Joel Villanueva, Senators JV Ejercito, Raffy Tulfo, and Risa Hontiveros.

At the same press conference, Poe said they observed that the automatic voltage regulator (AVR) in the air traffic control system has not been replaced since August 2022 and that it has been two years since proper maintenance has been done on the equipment.

The observation was echoed  by Villanueva who said that the AVR is still not functioning.

Poe said that after the submission of the inter-agency panel’s report, the Senate public services committee will determine if they need another hearing on the incident or if they will proceed to the drafting of the committee report.

For his part, Zubiri said they will await the report as they do not want to rule out the possibility that it had been a cyber-attack.

In terms of legislation, Poe reiterated the need for an independent transportation safety board to investigate similar incidents like the New Year's Day airspace shutdown where government agencies were involved.

During the 18th Congress, a bill creating the Philippine Transportation and Safety Board was approved by both houses, but it was vetoed by President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. in July 2022. — BM, GMA Integrated News