New Cagayan de Oro airport lacks navigational aids—CAAP
CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines—Pilots making a landing on the new Laguindingan Airport in Misamis Oriental after it opens in April will have to rely on the skills they learned over years as the new facility still has no air navigation systems and support facilities to guide them, officials of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines told reporters here Tuesday.
The lack of navigational aids—namely, Instrument Landing Systems, a vital piece of ground equipment that tells aircraft the precise position of the runway; VHF omni-directional radio range (VOR); the Distance Measuring Equipment (DME), Meteorological Observing System; Precision Approach Lighting System-Category 1 and the Precision Approach Path Indicator—did not deter President Aquino from ordering that the airport, which will replace the Lumbia Airport here as gateway to Northern Mindanao, start operations on April 30.
Regino Hofileña, chief of CAAP’s administration department, said pilots would have to use the “visual flight rule (VFR)” in making their approach to the P7.9-billion Laguindingan Airport.
The Laguindingan Airport was envisioned to become a world-class international airport and construction was funded by a P5.1-billion loan from the Korean Import Export Bank and a government counterpart of P2.9 billion. Construction started in 2007 and was originally scheduled to be completed in June 2012 but was delayed for various reasons.
When he visited the airport in February, Mr. Aquino ordered its opening in April, despite the lack of vital instruments to “bring progress to Misamis Oriental as it will further promote tourism.”
The Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI) opposed the “premature opening of the airport” because passenger safety could be compromised. The business group even passed several resolutions asking the government to put in place the needed instruments before pushing through with the airport’s opening.
OCCI officials said there was no need to rush things up because airlines could use the Lumbia Airport, which could accommodate incoming flights as late 9 p.m. because it has the necessary equipment to guide pilots.
Hofileña said the lack of navigational aids at the new airport was being addressed and these could be in place within the next few months as the procurement process is now underway.
Raul Glorioso, chief of the Aerodrome Development and Management Service of CAAP, said the bidding process for the instruments has already been approved by the government.
“Once the bidding is done, it could be installed within the next six months so we won’t have to wait until May 2014,” Hofileña said.
Glorioso said that in fact, by June 30, the first navigational equipment—a GPS-based one—would arrive and would be installed at the new airport.
But Elpedio Paras, former president of the OCCI, said they didn’t care if the airport’s opening is put off until the needed equipment has been installed.
“We have waited for a year already, what is one more year of waiting…?” he said.
Glorioso said CAAP was determined to open the Laguindingan Airport in April and one of the plans called for the use of Lumbia Airport’s instruments, except for the radar. He said Lumbia’s air traffic controllers will also be relocated to the Laguindingan Airport.
Glorioso said that even if the plans fail to materialize, pilots would still have no problem touching down on Laguindingan Airport because landings will be made only during daytime. He said that during daytime, the new airport is far more visible than Lumbia Airport.
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