Airport still on day operations

Night operations might resume tomorrow if all goes well

The runway and taxiway of the Francisco C. Ada Saipan International Airport remained in the dark for the third night yesterday, with their lights still unfixed.

In a news briefing, Richard Cabrera, Guam’s Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport electrician leader, said they are still looking at the same timeline to fix the problem—which is on Wednesday if everything goes well.

“Nothing new came about from our findings but the main trouble. We’re going to leave that aside for now to try to get the runway and a portion of the taxiway [lit], so that night operations can resume,” he said.

Cabrera said they might be able to turn the lights on tomorrow but they will still have to check throughout Wednesday if it will stay on.

“You need to give me time also to have those lights stay on so that I can further troubleshoot if there are problems outside the airfield. That way, we can prevent accidents and disasters [from] happening,” Cabrera said.

The team from Guam, supplemented by the Saipan airport staff, has already replaced two wires that were 3,000 feet long.

According to Cabrera, they will work on splicing the wires and slowly energizing the affected areas today.

“In every hand hole we need to splice wires and that’s not easy,” Cabrera said.

Main issue

The areas that are being worked on right now are just 80 percent of the airport’s problem.

In an interview after the briefing, Cabrera said the remaining 20 percent has to do with the area from Bravo to Alpha 7 of the airport field.

“Most likely it’s just the wire or the transformer,” Cabrera said. “Something must’ve caused [the fire], so I’m assuming, that’s the trouble that caused it.”

Asked when the airport will be up 100 percent, Cabrera said he doesn’t have an answer yet until he is able to further assess the problem.

NOTAM issue

Asiana Airlines general manager Sungnam Park raised his concern during the briefing that the “notice to airmen” or NOTAM states that the airport will remain in day operations only until Dec. 7.

Airport manager Edward Mendiola clarified that the NOTAM can be cancelled once the lights are deemed operational.

“We wanted that cushion in case we discovered something else,” Mendiola said. “If we get the power back on and everything is fine, then we’ll cancel the NOTAM.”

Park also raised concerns about the airport tower’s confusion on the operation time.

“Asiana said they were held in the air for about 40 minutes today before landing. They couldn’t get landing permission,” Park said.

He said the plane was supposed to arrive at 6:30am and that their pilot said the runway was visible but they weren’t allowed to land.

Mendiola said the new language in their NOTAM would clarify that. The tower will now follow the beginning of civil twilight time, which is approximately 30 minutes before actual sunrise time.

Flights that usually come in at night are still delayed by about four to five hours as they have to wait for the runway to be visible and safe for landing.

Frauleine S. Villanueva-Dizon | Reporter
Frauleine Michelle S. Villanueva was a broadcast news producer in the Philippines before moving to the CNMI to pursue becoming a print journalist. She is interested in weather and environmental reporting but is an all-around writer. She graduated cum laude from the University of Santo Tomas with a degree in Journalism and was a sportswriter in the student publication.

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