The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration yesterday warned the Commonwealth Ports Authority on what it describes as uncoordinated activities of the U.S. military in the CNMI.
The FAA warning couldn’t come at a better time as the military is expected to conduct training exercise on Tinian beginning today.
Saipan Tribune learned that CPA officials were informed yesterday by Juan S. Reyes, an FAA airport certification safety inspector, of the arrival of military troops on Tinian which he believes was not properly coordinated with the CNMI ports authority.
CPA vice chair Benigno Sablan yesterday briefly mentioned in the open session about the latest correspondence from FAA Honolulu Office which he admitted pertains to the issues of lack of coordination to the ports authority. FAA’s correspondence was discussed in the closed-door meeting of the board yesterday.
Sources disclosed that FAA had emphasized that prior to any military exercise in sites where may potentially affect the airport facilities, there is a process that is required to be satisfied by any party including the U.S. military.
However, it was learned that FAA was only made aware of today’s training exercise on Tinian at the last minute and no prior coordination or official approval from the ports authority was secured. No scope of work was also provided to the CPA, it was learned.
Sources revealed that it was only yesterday morning that FAA and CPA were informed of the training activity which is expected to involve the arrival of helicopters and other military equipment.
Saipan Tribune learned that last week, the military conducted the same exercises in Guam but there was no information that the same training will be extended to Tinian.
According to CPA legal counsel Robert Torres, the board discussed during the executive session the “need to ensure coordination with CPA and military” on any activities that are being planned in and nearby the airport premises.
Torres confirmed the arrival of military troops on Tinian today. He pointed out that such activities “always need to be coordinated.”
Saipan Tribune learned that FAA reminded CPA that, prior to any exercises that take place on airport premises, there are important concerns that need to be satisfied such as confirmation of the ports authority approval of the requested activity.
Also emphasized by the federal agency, it was learned, is the importance of having an implementation plan and the ground operations plan particularly in military activities. Airfield safety briefing, meetings with potentially affected tenants must also be ensured by the CPA before an approval is accorded to such requested activity.
During yesterday’s meeting, acting CPA executive director Ed Mendiola told the board that he is still seeking more information from Tinian ports authority regarding the military exercise scheduled today.