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  • THE New Year’s Day breakdown of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport’s (NAIA) air
    traffic management system was caused by a busted circuit breaker, not a failure in the
    uninterruptible power supply (UPS) equipment, transportation officials yesterday told a
    House committee hearing.

    Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) acting director general Manuel Antonio
    Tamayo told the House committee on transportation that an ongoing interagency “forensic
    investigation” on the Communications, Navigation and Surveillance Systems for Air Traffic
    Management (CNS/ATM) of the NAIA has initially determined that the circuit breaker was
    the cause of the glitch and not the UPS as the Department of Transportation (DOTR) has
    earlier announced.

    The interagency investigation is led by the DOTR.

    Tamayo said there was an “overvoltage” in one of the primary circuit breakers prior to the
    entry of power to the equipment room “and when this happened, immediate actions were
    undertaken to address disruptions.”

    “We discovered that it was not the UPS, and it was a circuit breaker that was broken,”
    Tamayo told the panel chaired by Antipolo Rep. Romeo Acop on the questioning of Rep.
    Bonifacio Bosita (PL, 1Rider) who warned that the incident could happen again in the
    future.

    Tamayo made the revelation as he briefed lawmakers on the real cause of the system
    breakdown, which affected more than 65,000 passengers and more than 300 flights.

    “We don’t know the reason why it (circuit breaker) failed,” he told the panel even as he and
    Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista both said that the incident could not have been
    avoided despite regular maintenance of the equipment.

    On the questioning of panel senior vice chair Parañaque City Rep. Gustavo Tambunting,
    Tamayo explained that the circuit breaker could not be opened for regular checking and
    maintenance since it had to be kept sealed.
    He said there was no reason to suspect that the breaker would stop working or malfunction
    since it has a lifespan of 20 to 30 years.

    Tamayo also raised the issue of brain drain, saying the country is losing aviation experts
    because they are being pirated by other countries, especially those from the Middle East
    that offer salaries as much as P300,000 a month to air traffic controllers, engineers and
    technicians.

    “They are offered P300,000 to work in other countries, especially in the Middle East while
    here, their starting salary is only around P45,000,” he said, adding that CAAP continues to
    train technical people. (W. Vigilia, Malaya

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