Saipan airport back to normal ops


Commonwealths Ports Authority mechanics have successfully repaired a downed runway firefighting vehicle, allowing the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport to return to normal operations.

Last Friday, CPA’s Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting Crash 8 unit went down for maintenance, forcing CPA to restrict the sizes of planes that could come in to match their reduced response capacity.

Equipment for repairs arrived yesterday morning and CPA mechanics had the unit fixed before 10am.

CPA executive director Maryann Lizama said they received the assembly—a steering gear box—at 3am yesterday.

“Our team of mechanics and ARFF boys worked on the truck since [3:30am] until complete,” she said before 10am yesterday.

With the ARFF Crash 8 Unit back online, the Saipan airport is back to “Index D” per Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, which means larger aircrafts like 747s, 777s, Airbus 380s, and Airbus 330s can now fly in to the airport.

The reduction in CPA’s safety response capacity had forced them to reduce operations to “Index C.”

Index C—per the FAA—indicates that aircraft between 129 feet and no more 159 feet in size are allowed to land.

Lizama told Saipan Tribune that she was up since 1am yesterday morning, meeting with her mechanics at the airport at 2am. From there, they waited for the assembly to clear Customs and Border Protection, before CPA’s ARFF mechanics started their work.

Lizama thanked the mechanics, Joey and Roland, and gave a big thank you to all her firefighters for helping the mechanics get the Crash 8 unit back online.

The reduction of airport operations on Friday caused about 1,600 passengers to be stranded over the weekend.

One affected flight from China—Dynamic Airways—did not yet resume their flights yesterday, or schedule ones today but will resume normal operations soon, according to local representative Dennis Tse.

Dennis B. Chan | Reporter
Dennis Chan covers education, environment, utilities, and air and seaport issues in the CNMI. He graduated with a degree in English Literature from the University of Guam. Contact him at

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