MANILA — The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) on Tuesday finalized preparations of its scheduled shutdown of the Philippine airspace early Wednesday morning for replacement and repairs.
The CAAP is set to replace the uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units at its air traffic management center from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. on Wednesday, May 17, to avoid a repeat of the New Year's Day aviation meltdown last January.
The agency said it has been practicing how to replace the UPS units over the past 3 days to make sure it would be done within the 2-hour window.
CAAP said shutting down the Philippine airspace was necessary to ensure the safety of all aircraft and passengers flying to and from the country.
UPS units regulate the voltage that enters air traffic management’s load side, and can also supply power to the air traffic system in the event of a power outage. CAAP noted that its UPS units were old and need replacement.
"Starting midnight tonight, everybody will be here," CAAP Deputy Director General for Operations Captain Edgardo Diaz said.
"Aging na itong UPS natin, probably approaching its end of life. Hindi pa naman immediate iyan, pero we will not go to that extent... For the safety of our riding public, we have to replace it bago pa magloko nang husto iyan," Diaz added.
(Our UPS is aging, before they malfunction completely, probably approaching its end of life. That is not yet immediate, but we will not go to that extent... We have to replace it before it malfunctions completely.)
The CAAP said it was confident the replacement works would be finished within the 2-hour window. The agency originally scheduled the shutdown for 6 hours, but later shortened it.
But even with the UPS unit replacement, CAAP said this would not eliminate the possibility of another glitch and would only lessen the chances of it happening.
“But then, ito with the proper maintenance, bagong parts, bagong machine, pwedeng possibility of a shutdown is less," Diaz said, noting that more replacement activities are set in the next few months.
(With proper maintenance, new parts, a new machine, the possibility of a shutdown could be less.)
As the airspace shutdown may also affect airports outside Metro Manila, CAAP said it has also coordinated with the Luzon International Premiere Airport Development Corp. (LIPAD), and GMR–Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation (GMCAC).
GMCAC, which oversees the country's second busiest gateway Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA), said no flights would be affected by the temporary shutdown from their end.
But LIPAD said that four regional flights at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga might be affected.
Due to the shutdown, AirAsia Philippines "retimed" its flights from Manila to Davao, Taipei, Kota Kinabalu, and Cagayan de Oro on May 16 and 17.
The airline also cancelled 6 flights from Manila to Davao, Cebu, and Bacolod scheduled on Wednesday.
AirAsia Philippines spokesperson Steve Dailisan said that those affected by flight disruptions may avail of the airline's Standard Recovery Options (SROs) such as moving flights, rebooking, credit account, or refund via AskBo on the Airasia Superapp.
Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific said they have no flight adjustments or cancellations related to Wednesday's temporary airspace closure.