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Delays for air traffic centre 2014.12.12
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THE already overdue HK$1.03 billion air traffic control (ATC) centre will be further delayed and ‘preliminarily’ commissioned by mid-2016, admitted director-general of Civil Aviation Department (民航處) Norman Lo Shung-man (羅崇文).

The centre at the new Civil Aviation Department headquarters, at Chek Lap Kok (赤.角 ), has a ‘complex’ new air traffic management system costing HK$575.2 million, which was supposed to have been up and running in 2012, to replace the existing system that reached its usable lifespan two years ago.

But three years on from when the tender was awarded to US defence contractor Raytheon in 2011, the new Autotrac3 system is still undergoing tests after some 204 deficiencies and observations were identified. Raytheon also supplied Autotrac2, in use since Hong Kong International Airport (香港國際機場) opened in 1998.

The Autotrac3 delay was highlighted in the latest audit report, which said the contractor had estimated the system would be commissioned next year.

Neither Raytheon nor Autotrac3 were named in the report, but the information was supplied by the department to The Standard.

But at the public hearing of the Legislative Council’s (立法會) Public Accounts Committee (PAC, 政府帳目委員會) on Tuesday to discuss the audit report, Lo said, “Our preliminary estimation is that it can be fully commissioned in the first half of 2016.

“The main reason is we have conducted site and field tests but there is room for further improvement.”

Instead of breaking the original HK$486 million contract in which the government could have asked for HK$8 million in damages, legislator Raymond Wong Yuk-man (黃毓民) said it was hard to accept that the department instead approved HK$89 million to the supplier “to rectify mistakes”.

Lo said that the 204 deficiencies were not “really very serious”. He added, “Most of them were caused by the software.” He said other air traffic management providers would also “often experience delays, while replacing existing ATC systems”.

Civil Aviation deputy director-general Simon Li Tin-chui (李天柱) tried to tell legislators that he could explain the “reason for the delay later”.

But committee chairman Abraham Shek Lai-him (石禮謙) castigated him for being unprepared in the hearing.

(The Standard, Mary Ann Benitez and Kenneth Lau, 10 December, 2014)

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