Банкеръ Weekly



The consecutive attempt at launching the new flight management system at the state-run Air Traffic Control Service might be successful, after its last trial tests were completed on January 27. The project, implemented by the Italian company Alenia Marconi, was to be finalized in end-2004, but an argument about money delayed it. The Italians demanded EUR4,125,000 above the initially agreed amount of EUR29.6MN (mostly for the additional extras of the system), but the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications refused to fulfil their requirement. According to rumours, the Italians intend to initiate a case against Bulgaria at a court of arbitration if they don't get the EUR4MN they've asked for. But that will not be an obstacle to the commissioning of the equipment, which has already been delivered. The new system will become operative in summer at the earliest. The exact date depends solely on the experts from Air Traffic Control Service, who have to learn how to work with it. Thus, the delay will become at least a year and a half. Some attempts to launch the new equipment were made in the end of 2002 but failed. Almost throughout 2003 the Italians could not reach an agreement with the Transport Ministry. The main problem was that many of the system's elements turned out to be morally outdated and already discarded by the international aeronautics organisations. It was established they were in fashion back in 2000 when the contract with Alenia was in fact signed. Therefore, the experts from Air Traffic Control Service required new equipment, and the Italians demanded additional money for it. The additional modifications were accepted in March 2004 and Alenia undertook a commitment to install them by the year-end. According to the Italians, everything is O.K. now, but we should not forget that there are quite a number of opponents to the new radars within Air Traffic Control Service itself. However, Transport Minister Nikolay Vassilev and his team will doubtlessly do everything possible in order to commission the new flight management system prior the parliamentary elections in end-June.

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