Defective X-ray machine worsened Jan. 1 chaos at NAIA

Defective X-ray machine worsened Jan. 1 chaos at NAIA

MANILA – A probe by the Office for Transportation Security (OTS) found out that a defective X-ray machine contributed to the chaotic situation at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on New Year’s Day when about 65,000 passengers were affected by at least 288 flight cancellations.

The OTS launched a probe after social media posts of long queues at NAIA Terminal Terminal 3 (T3), with some alleging insufficient personnel and malfunctioning equipment.

In a statement on Friday, the OTS said that while its management ordered the cancellation of leave of absence of airport frontline workers during the holiday season, there were security screening officers (SSO) who failed to report for work.

“OTS SSOs who failed to report for work during the said period are now placed under investigation,” the OTS said, adding strict measures are imposed on unauthorized absences, especially during peak seasons.

However, the absence of personnel was not the cause of the long lines as there are automated security equipment.

An X-ray machine at lane 1 of T3 went down at around 7 a.m. and was reported to the Manila International Airport Authority – Electronics and Communications Division for troubleshooting and repair.

It was restored an hour and a half later.

“To prevent long lines at the checkpoint, some passengers were requested to transfer to the other screening checkpoints. Based on records, there was a moderate volume of passengers at the time of the incident,” the OTS said.

The OTS said advanced imaging technologies allow a turnaround time of about five to 10 seconds per passenger, while the X-ray machines are equipped with an automatic tray retrieval system for the simultaneous placement and retrieval of baggage by passengers at the screening lane, significantly reducing queueing at each security screening checkpoint.

The defective X-ray machine aside, a traffic system glitch is already under investigation even as airlines are still trying to update their cancelled flights.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. went to NAIA on Friday and apologized for the mess. (PNA)

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