The Philippines is to receive more than $200 million in Japanese government-backed overseas development loans to revamp its air navigation infrastructure by 2007.

The main aim of the project, being led by the Philippines Air Transportation Office, is to boost safety by introducing a precision approach capability at secondary airports and improving en route surveillance, says project manager Andrew Basallote.

The detailed design phase for the countrywide implementation of a satellite-based communications, navigation, surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) system is due to get under way in early June following the selection of a Japanese consultancy to carry out the work.

The design phase is being funded by a Japanese grant and is expected to last about 15 months. The implementation phase, paid for with a $204 million low-interest Japan Bank for International Co-operation loan repayable over 30 years, will be thrown open to international tender and is likely to attract bids from foreign firms including Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Thales and Alenia Marconi Systems, among others. The intergovernmental loan agreement was signed in March.

The work will be tendered in two separate packages, says Basallote. The first will comprise the ATM and communications equipment component, and the second navigation and surveillance systems.

The Philippines is seen as a prime candidate to benefit from CNS/ATM because it lacks precision approach aids at all but its major airports. Radars provide only limited coverage of the country. The country's VOR/DMEs will continue to operate in the transition phase but "maybe in the long term navigation will be purely through the satellite system", says Philippines Department of Transport and Communications air transport planning chief Raphael Lavides.

Source: Flight International