December 29, 2008

Tardy traffic controllers delay planes

Monday, December 29, 2008 Posted by Mary , No comments
I'm fascinated by airplanes, but I know things can go real bad, real quick. That's why this really has me outraged:

Tardy traffic controllers delay planes

By Julie Alipala
Mindanao Bureau
First Posted 04:18:00 12/27/2008

ZAMBOANGA CITY – A Philippine Air Lines flight and a Cebu Pacific plane from Manila had to stay in the air for several minutes Friday because of tardy air traffic controllers at the Zamboanga City International Airport here.

An official of the Air Transportation Office (ATO) said the planes later landed safely when air traffic controllers arrived after being late for about 40 minutes.

Chito Atilano, officer-in-charge of the Philippine Airlines office here, said PR123, with 153 passengers aboard was supposed to land at 6:23 a.m.

He said the pilots, identified only as Capt. Tumalad and First Officer Manarang, tried to make contact with the traffic control tower as soon as they arrived here but nobody was around to take their calls.

Atilano said after a few minutes, the pilots again contacted the tower so they could land the plane but still, nobody was answering.

“The pilot and his copilot reported of attempting to land four times but no one was manning the control tower,” he said.

Atilano said the pilots knew that staying in the air for too long would be risky as they were already running out of fuel. The plane’s fuel for the Manila-Zamboanga flight was only about 1,350 kilograms.

Fifth try

He said the pilots decided to make a fifth and final attempt to land before deciding to divert to Cebu City. It was on the fifth try that the control tower responded, he said.

“Fortunately on the fifth attempt, someone responded from the tower that made the landing safe,” Atilano said.

He said the plane finally touched down at 6:51 a.m., after nearly half an hour of hovering over the airport.

Celso Bayabos, chief of the Air Transportation Office here, said a Cebu Pacific plane from Manila also had to stay on the air because it could not land without the PAL landing first.

Bayabos said the planes arrived here 20 minutes apart but until the first one has landed, the other one could not land.

He acknowledged that the problems started when the air traffic controllers failed to report on time.

“They were 40 minutes late,” he said, adding that they should have been manning the control tower before 6 a.m.

Asked what could have caused the tardiness, Bayabos said: “Probably they were still on Christmas mode.”

But he quickly added that “whatever they did on Christmas day, it should not get in the way of performing their jobs.”

“I have already filed the report to our national office for sanctions against these five personnel,” Bayabos said.

What the fuck, man? What the fuck. I mean, seriously. This is not funny at all. Something should be done about this so it doesn't happen ever again, anywhere in the world.Those people should be sued, or sacked. And not only are the tardy controllers at fault; the airport officials should also be held accountable for letting this happen.

I wish I could do something to make sure this offense is thoroughly investigated and punished, not just filed away and forgotten. Alas, I can only blog about it.


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