Phuket Airport included in B4bn upgrade

PHUKET: Aerothai, the state enterprise that operates air traffic control at airports throughout Thailand, including Suvarnabhumi and Phuket International Airport, will spend 4 billion baht on upgrading its computer and communications network.

The upgrade to replace outdated equipment will be privately funded, said Aphinun Vannangkura, Aerothai Vice President for Air Traffic Management.

“The upgrade will introduce more computer systems into the process to help guard against any human error,” he said.

The project involves establishing a central communications center in Tungmahamek, Bangkok, which will relay data to and from Aerothai’s major regional centers in Chiang Mai, Haad Yai, Phitsanulok, Hua Hin and Phuket.

“The most important aspect of the upgrade is training our officers to use the high-technology equipment. After the training, which will be rolled out to different divisions over 15 months, we should be able to switch to the new system by about October 2014,” Mr Aphinun said.

The comprehensive upgrade is expected to allow officers at Phuket Airport, who control air traffic within a 48-kilometer (30-mile) radius, to better manage air traffic safely.

Phuket Airport’s sole runway can currently cope with 30 flights in one hour, and on average sees about 200 flights arrive or depart each day.

However, the number of flights arriving and departing Phuket Airport has grown dramatically in recent years, from 31,170 in Fiscal 2006 to 57,697 in Fiscal 2011.

“Many companies in Europe and America are interested in the upgrade project, but it’s not easy for them to meet our tough and complete requirements,” said Phuket Aerothai engineer Wanlop Piromrit.

“Once we have the new computer system and our staff are trained, our officers will go to train other air traffic control officers abroad,” Mr Wanlop added.

— Atchaa Khamlo

Phuket News

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