At least 77 domestic departure flights were canceled and seven international inbound flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) were diverted to Clark and Cebu as a result of radar malfunction, the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) said on Friday.
The MIAA quoting the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said aviation personnel “are now on the site to fix the said radar.”
The CAAP issued a notice-to-airmen (Notam) at 3:57a.m., Friday, when the radar malfunctioned at the height of heavy downpour and thunderstorm brought by storm .
The Notam was earlier relayed to airline operators, the CAAP said in its advisory.
It stated that small aircraft are not allowed to land at NAIA but only RNAV (Area Navigation used to be called “random navigation”) aircraft like Airbus A319s or Boeing B737s are allowed to use the NAIA approach due to limited communications between tower approach and the pilots.
It means that RNAV-capable planes coming in for a landing contact the control tower or approach frequencies before making a final approach.
The tower then directs the aircraft to look out for visuals at the airport, before giving the plane a clearance for landing.
And those without RNAV, especially light planes, will be directed to land at another airport either in Sangley in Cavite, Clark airport in Pampanga or in Lipa City, Batangas.
Aviation sources, however, said pilots of the diverted commercial flights had decided to land at Cebu and Clark as a safety precaution due to severe thunderstorm in Manila despite their planes having RNAVs.
As of 11:23a.m., Friday, CAAP lifted its Notam, allowing all sort of aircraft to land at NAIA runway.
The travel cancelations affected hundreds of passengers at NAIA Terminal 3 who were supposed to fly via Cebu Pacific Air and PAL Express to San Jose, Masbate, Tacloban, Catarman, Zamboanga, Busuanga, Surigao, Naga, Caticlan, Basco, Laoag, Davao, Dipolog and General Santos.
China Eastern Airlines from Pudong, China, and China Airlines from Taipei were diverted to Cebu.