Airport back to daytime ops

Airport runway lighting system still problematic

The Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport is back to daytime operations only after experiencing problems with its runway electrical lighting system once again, mere weeks after being fixed. The limited hours of operation has resulted in airlines rescheduling their nighttime flights into daytime ones.

According to Commonwealth Ports Authority executive director Maryann Lizama, she was alerted around midnight last Friday by operations supervisor Jack Kileleman that a flight could not land because only 30 percent of the runway was lit.

Lizama said that even with the navigational aids, landing was unsafe for the plane, an Airbus 330.

“A safety call was made to have the aircraft diverted to Guam because we were going to issue a NOTAM [notice to airmen] imposing the daylight flight operations only,” she said.

Two Asiana Airlines were also diverted to Guam and the airport then began shutting down the runway electrical system to preserve and avoid circuit shorting, fluctuations and especially burning out the entire electrical system.

“We informed the airlines, federal and local partners, and the ground handlers of the NOTAM and they were able to schedule their flights for daylight operations,” she said.

“After the last daylight flight operation, the Commonwealth Ports Authority had begun work on engaging with electrical firms to conduct an overall assessment of the entire airport lighting system and make repairs and/or upgrades. Unfortunately, the lighting system failed once again,” she said.

Lizama noted that the repairs that were completed did not pinpoint the exact problem, which prompted CPA to address the need to bring in an electrical firm that specializes in such services.

She said that CPA board chair Jose Lifoifoi approved the emergency procurement of services to find a company that specializes in electrical systems and to authorize the provisional hiring of two electricians for repairs.

“This will address our needs long term. At its immediacy, Richard Cabrera from Guam will be heading back our way to work on the lighting system,” she said.

Cabrera has been troubleshooting and conducting repairs over the weekend.

“The Commonwealth Ports Authority realizes and recognizes the need to address and resolve the matter expeditiously. We ask that the public please contact their respective airlines for flight schedules,” she said.

Daisy Demapan | Reporter

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