Philippines: Third World Airport Equipment

On June 21 the DVOR (Doppler Very High Frequency Omni Range) went out at NAIA (Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport).  This is one of the components of instrument landing systems.  Another  main part, ILS (Instrument Landing System) has been out of service for over a year.  Pilots must land under VFR, Visual Flight Rules. 

Four days after the DVOR went down, one Philippine news site reported that the estimated return to service dates have been missed four times.  This is despite  “They’re moving heaven and earth to fix the DVOR or buy a new one and are begging airlines left and right not to be overly worried about safety. They fear they would be fired, transferred or demoted if the next administration [which takes power on June 30]  rules that they were incompetent in handling the problem,” said one airport official.

If and when the DVOR is repaired it has to be calibrated.  The government’s pilot who did all the check flights was previously placed on “preventive suspension” because of “alleged irregularities in [his] service”.  I wasn’t surprised to find the aircraft he used for these checks has been grounded because of “alleged anomalies” in its most recent repair.  Remember this is the Phils, so ‘alleged’ may just mean he hasn’t bribed the right person.

Three years ago the FAA downgraded Philippine aviation for failure to satisfy international standards.  Three months ago the EU forbade Philippine planes from traveling to europe.

Not everything in the Phils is shoddy or crap.  But assuming it is leads to the fewest disappointments.


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