Well, as the manhunt continues within the Ministry and Muscat ATC for the sources of Muscat Confidential's latest story on Oman's sorry state of Air Traffic Control, a few other people have also come forward with ... both 100% confirmation of what happened, and additional details of both the flying blind event in October and in general. [You know who you are - thank you]
A near miss or Airprox event happened when the Oman Air VIP flight was showing off the new Airbus to HE the Minister and various important people. While cruising comfortably along in the custody of Oman Air Traffic Control, a sudden high acceleration evasive maneuver was taken by the pilots to avoid a mid-air collision situation, causing the VIPs to almost spill their champagne, and hardly unnoticed by those on board.
It was also not the only near miss.
Photo: Near misses due to Oman ATC errors are routinely covered up, say our sources
We await Muscat Daily's follow-up report* on such a worrying problem and the civil service cover-up, a situation potentially impacting not just the safety of all those who fly through or over Oman, but also the reputation of the whole country wrt tourism and business.
Here are some key questions they could simply ask the appropriate Government Authorities:
- for how long was Oman without an effective ATC system in October 2009?
- what were the real reasons for the Minister's Oman Air flight having to take evasive action?
- how many near miss events happened when the ATC system was down?
- what are the qualifications of the Senior System engineer responsible for the ATC system, and why was a junior engineer allowed access to the master passwords?
- Why is the senior engineer still in his job after such a blatant breach of standard operating procedures (SOPs)?
- who is responsible for ensuring near miss events are properly reported and that international standards are adhered to? IS the non-reporting of near miss events part of Oman ATC Standard Procedures?
- what is the actual back up system if there is a catastrophic failure of the only radar thingy, or of the main computer system (say by flood or fire)?
Interested parties might also want to see if the recommendations made in the independent review by top-notch international Swedish Consultants have been addressed or even shared with those accountable for the safety of Oman's ATC system? (Hint: Mr Minister, or even Council of Ministers - Ask to see an unedited version of the comprehensive Swedavia report. If the findings themselves don't scare you, the clear attempt to hide the report from the powers that be should perhaps be of even greater concern...)
I found it rather ironic that coincidentally, on 13-15th October, the Ministry of Transport and Communication was hosting the Trans-Oman conference "the Sultanate’s first comprehensive event providing access to cutting-edge solutions, services and infrastructure especially designed for the transport, shipping, aviation and logistics industry!" I'd LMAO if I didn't fly so often.
TRANSOMAN is not just an exhibition. It is a forum to discuss industry issues; discover the latest trends; connect and do business with various suppliers and service providers in the air, road, rail, shipping, customs, cargo and logistics businesses, connecting Oman, the rest of the region and beyond.
* or lets face it, any of Oman's media. This is a big story. Perhaps our friends in the UAE would be more willing and able to follow up this? A few phone calls is all it would take, plus interviews with the UAE or Indian ATCs who of course had to be informed that Oman airspace was temporarily unable to accept new planes for a while.