‘Saipan runway could be OK tonight’

Airfield lights testing today

Lights at the runway and taxiway of the Francisco C. Ada-Saipan International Airport might be operational tonight should the testing that will be done the whole day today is successful.

“Depending on the testing tonight, we’ll somehow announce tomorrow if we are conducting a status update,” said airport manager Edward Mendiola at a briefing yesterday.

Should the lights pass the test, the Notice to Airmen that was earlier issued will be amended. Currently, it says that only day operations are allowed at the airport until Dec. 7.

“If everything is successful tonight [and] if according to FAA rules and regulations it is acceptable for travel or landing or takeoff in the airfield, then we will allow [the use of the runway],” Guam lead electrician Richard Cabrera said.

Cabrera said they have to monitor the lights from around 9pm last night until this afternoon.

“Part of the test is keeping that power on so that whatever transformer out there that is ready to blow will be found,” he said.

6,000 feet of cables

Approximately 6,000 linear feet of cable has been pulled and Cabrera’s team from Guam spent the entire day yesterday making the connections.

Aside from Cabrera and electrician Peter Sablan, one more personnel from the Antonio B. Won Pat International Airport is assisting the Saipan airport.

“If he didn’t come in Monday night, we wouldn’t be able to pull all the wires,” Cabrera said.

As of yesterday afternoon, one of the airport’s four hand holes still needed its wires to be repaired.

This will bring the airfield up to 80 percent operational.

“The objective is to make the airfield operational again,” Cabrera said.

Landing options

Cabrera said he hopes to find the problem for the rest of the 20 percent after they successfully light the runway and taxiway partially.

“I’m hoping to find the problem from Bravo to Alpha 7 before the weekend,” Cabrera said.

According to Mendiola, the airfield being at 80 percent functionality will be sufficient for the airport’s operations.

“It shouldn’t really affect the operation because they will be able to land and take off,” he said.

“The part that they are concerned about is the direction of the wind and how the aircraft is going to land,” Cabrera said.

Should the lights be turned on tonight, aircraft would only have the option to fly in coming in the direction from Tinian at Runway 7.

Mendiola said the other option, through Runway 2-5, which is coming from the other side, is utilized when there is wind shear but that seldom happens.

“If they’re supposed to land from the other direction, the authority can still assist them,” Cabrera said.

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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