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Six-hour PH airspace shutdown set for May 17 —MIAA

Philippine airspace will be shut down on May 17 to give way for maintenance activities on the country’s air traffic management system to avoid a repeat of the infamous New Year’s Day shutdown.

At a press briefing on Tuesday, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Cesar Chiong announced that the entire Philippine airspace will be shut down for a “major activity.”

Sought to elaborate, MIAA Senior Assistant General Manager Bryan Co said that “for May 17, it’s the entire Philippine airspace that will be shut down because of the scheduled maintenance or replacement of the UPS of the CNS/ATM  or ‘yung air traffic management center natin.”

UPS stands for the Uninterruptible Power Supply while CNS/ATM refers to the Communications, Navigations, Surveillance/Air Traffic. Management)

Co said that the airspace shutdown will be from 12 midnight until 6 a.m. on May 17, 2023.

He said the maintenance activity could be shorter, “but as far as planning is concerned we’re planning for six hours.”

Chiong said the MIAA management will meet with all of the 43 airlines operating at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to discuss the plan.

The MIAA chief said the agency will be requesting from the airlines how many flights will be rescheduled due to the airspace shutdown and how they plan to implement their recovery flights.

In an advisory, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said corrective maintenance activity will be conducted at the Philippine Air Traffic Management Center (ATMC) on May 3 and May 17 to repair the Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR), replace the UPS, and upgrade the ATMS A/B power supply.

The ATMC facility houses the CNS/ATM system, which manages and supervises the air traffic activities within the Philippine Flight Information Region (FIR).

The maintenance activity on May 3 will be shorter at 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. compared to May 17 activity.

Interviewed on Super Radyo dzBB, CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio said airlines, airport operators, and concerned stakeholders were informed two weeks ahead of the May 17 maintenance activity to allow them to adjust their schedules so no flights will be cancelled.

However, delayed flights are still possible.

“Two weeks kami nagbigay ng information sa kanila dapat i-adjust naman nila ang mga flights para hindi ma-inconvenience ang mga pasahero,” Apolonio said.

On New Year’s Day, over 50,000 passengers were stranded due to the unexpected shutdown of the Philippine airspace caused by power outage because of several equipment malfunctions at the ATMC.

The announcement for the May 17 activity came a day after a power outage hit NAIA Terminal 3, resulting in the cancellation of 46 domestic flights. —KBK, GMA Integrated News