COA: Clark airport control tower needs rehabilitation
COA: Clark airport control tower needs rehabilitation
The audit team found the the control tower and its facilities to be non-compliant with regulations, having obsolete or otherwise busted equipment

MANILA, Philippines – The Clark International Airport in Pampanga, eyed as the next premier airport in the country, urgently needs rehabilitation of its control tower building and facilities, the Commission on Audit (COA) said on Thursday, October 6.

The statement, part of a Value for Money Audit released on Thursday, explained the results of a technical inspection conducted by a government audit team, which was completed on January 7.

A copy of the audit was earlier submitted to the Board of Directors of the Clark International Airport Corporation. (CIAC).

The audit team found the the control tower and its facilities to be non-compliant with regulations, having obsolete or otherwise busted equipment.

“The deteriorating condition of the Aerodome Traffic Control Tower puts airport operations at risk caused by facilities which have gone outdated and not conforming with international standards which hinders the attainment of its objective to develop the airport into a premier international airport of the Philippines,” the COA wrote.

The most immediate concern cited by the audit was an inoperative elevator. The eleveator is meant to take people and freight up and down the 11 floors of the tower. 

Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) personnel who were working as air traffic controllers there said they had to use the stairs every day to reach their workplace.

“The entry of women as Aerodome Traffic Controllers has raised gender-sensitive issues especially for expectant mothers who cannot go upstairs with more than a hundred steps. Moreover, human factors such as faintness may bring constraints to the workforce to climb up the 11-story tower or much worse, may result to accidents,” the COA explained.

Auditors added the lack of a working elevator might endanger airport operations in the event of an emergency.

Among the crucial functions of the control tower personnel based on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Rules of the Air, International Standards, are:

  • To issue information and clearances to aircraft to achieve a safe, orderly and expeditious flow of traffic
  • To provide information and other support for pilots
  • Manage air traffic between aircraft flying within the designated area of responsibility of the control tower including aircraft landing and take-off as well as ground vehicles operating in the airport

Aside from the elevator, the audit team reported cracks on the control tower glass windows and deteriorating visibility that made it difficult to see very small objects.

Poor lighting conditions inside the tower were also noted, including poor night-time visibility. The poor lighting can affect the efficiency of reading and conveying vital information, such as hold-short instruction, take-off and landing clearances, and frequency changes.

Other concerns noted include exposed electrical wiring and components seen as fire hazards, cracked interior wall paint, abandoned equipment in vacant rooms, and litter in the tower terrace.

An interview with CAAP’s head in the control tower revealed these concerns were pointed out in monthly reports to the CIAC since 2000. No action had been taken, however.

“We recommend [that] the president and chief executive officer (of CIAC) prioritize the rehabilitation of the Aerodome Traffic Control Tower building and facility to meet the international standards and requirements of ICAO,” the COA said.

In an exit conference with the audit team, the parties agreed CAAP will finance and implement both the installation of the elevator at the control tower as well as construction of the CAAP administration office inside the airport.

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