NAIA Manila Flights
By Osias T. Osorio
Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) officials on Monday were taking several drastic measures to reduce congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), now hobbled by too many flights but limited by runway capacity.
Among the steps taken include:
– Relocation of all flying schools to the provinces by yearend, and to terminate all of their lease rental agreements so that they would no longer have reason to stay.
– Limit general aviation (GenAv) to two take-offs and two landings per hour; declare runway 06-24 a “captain’s runway” — meaning, that only the pilot-in-command shall have full control during take-off.
– Forbid First Officers (FO) from taking over the control during the crucial period of taking off, which sometimes happen when the FO is being groomed for captaincy.
– Transfer of the so-called “fish-run” of those flights that are engaged in transporting marine products from the provinces to the NAIA. These products like live grouper (Lapu-lapu), crabs, prawns and other prized marine delicacies are transferred to regional flights at the NAIA. The products are mostly destined for the export market to Hong Kong, Taiwan in China.
According to Director General Ramon S. Gutierrez of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP)’ the Air Force’s 15th Strike Wing at Sangley Point, Cavite, would be transferred to the Laguindingan Airport in Cagayan de Oro, to give way to the eventual transfer of all propeller-driven airplanes of the GenAv sector probably this year.
During a meeting on Monday among the CAAP, the MIAA and the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB), it was decided that the most impressive move to reduce congestion would be to compel the domestic airlines to reduce their schedules or scale down the frequency of their flights during peak traffic hour, which is between 7am to 4 pm.
All of the domestic carriers such as Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, Zest Air, and Seair wanted to leave the NAIA at 2 pm, the most ideal window for departures, since it would allow them to make a turn-around flight and still be able to leave some provincial airports before sunset.
Some airports outside of Manila are not equipped with night landing operations.
To make full use of runway 13-31, the CAAP chief said that the authorities would allow airplanes to take-off on runway 31, which is a northerly direction, but aircraft must be warned not to make a right turn, which would bring them over the airspace of Malacanang Palace, considered a no-fly zone.
Unlike the NAIA, airports such as the Hong Kong Chep Lap Kok and Singapore Airport, do not allow propeller-driven airplanes to mix with commercial jetliners.
The MIAA, the CAAP and the CAB had hired a Sydney-based private entity to handle the time slotting of domestic and international foreign airlines in a bid to address aircraft congestion at the country’s premier airport.
The Sydney-based Airport Coordination Australia (ACA) has been tasked to handle airlines schedules since March, but still, the congestion remains because the system is still in transition and all the three government agencies have yet to complete submission of all airline schedules.
These three government agencies submit all schedules and all related factors via electronic mail to the ACA, which, in turn, processes the information. The new schedule is sent back to the Philippines within 24 hours for implementation.
The aim of the ACA is to allow about 40 to 50 runway occupancy (the term for all take-off and landing), which is about one airplane per minute.
Because of too much congestion at present, the NAIA can handle only between 27 to 30 airplanes per hour.
Gutierrez said that, at present, separations between airplanes is about three to five minutes because the NAIA is still using the old Air Traffic Management system.
He said airplane separation could be reduced to 1.5 minutes once the P13 billion Communications/Navigation Sytem-Air Traffic Management (CNS/ATM) is in place some two to three years from now.
The CNS/ATM, or the so-called Next Generation system, a satellite-based means of air traffic control and communications had been delayed due to several factors, among them the lack of counterpart funding from the government.
Also, Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Secretary Mar Roxas had subjected the CNS/ATM contract to a review to make sure that it is not attended by corruption, since it was finalized during the previous administration.