|Written by Recto Mercene |
|29 June 2009|
STARTING on June 26, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has banned the dual use of the Caticlan runways and reimposed the “one-way landing, one-way take-off” policy, already existing as a rule prescribed in an official document called the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP).
Caticlan Airport, also known as the Godofredo P. Ramos Airport, has runways 06-24 and previously pilots could use either runway as they choose to do so.
CAAP, however, discourages the use of runway 24 for landing because of a 39-meter hill close to where the runway ends.
The new edict reinforces the existing AIP ruling that runway 06 would be used exclusively for [landing while runway 24 would be used for take-off over a 950-meter long runway](now reduced to 820 per July 2009 NOTAM).
CAAP director general Ruben Ciron has ordered the limitations imposed following an incident involving a Zest Air MA60 aircraft on Thursday.
The Zest Air passenger plane attempted to land on runway 24 but touched down past the threshold, or landing spot marked by white grid lines, in trying to avoid the hilltop. The twin-engine turboprop’s momentum carried it beyond the runway’s end settled on a grassy portion of the field. No one among the 55 passengers was hurt.
To prevent such incident from happening again, the CAAP chief banned the dual use of the runway. The new directive would mean that aircraft barred from landing on runway 24 because of unfavorable wind conditions or load factors would have to divert to Kalibo airport.
Caticlan Airport in Panay is the main gateway to the famed beaches of Boracay Island. Records show that 40 flights on average fly out of the Godofredo P. Ramos Airport per day.
In two separate meetings on Saturday, Ciron met with executives of Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air Inc., the latter represented by its president and CEO Lance Gokongwei, to discuss the new policy on Caticlan Airport. Both carriers appealed to Ciron to lift the ban, citing that it would adversely affect their operations.
Ciron instructed officials from both airline companies to submit a more detailed proposal to support their appeal. The proposals would be studied by a review board comprising of CAAP officials and experts from the International Civil Aviation Organization, which would study the airlines’ request for exemptions, taking into consideration the pilot’s experience and qualifications, aircraft performance and load factors, and prevailing weather conditions in the area.
According to Ciron, the upgrading of Caticlan Airport will soon be under way through a build-operate-transfer scheme approved by the Department of Transportation and Communications. Under the project, the runway would be extended to accommodate an Airbus320 aircraft or similar aircraft in size and performance and the passenger terminal would be modernized.
In the meantime, the CAAP chief said they are in the process of negotiations to remove the hill at the end of runway 24, a major obstacle that hinders pilots from making a safe approach when landing.
The CAAP considers the removal of the hill as an immediate solution to the pilots’ dilemma. Details are now being finalized with Manuel Blanco of the Aklan Resort Corp. and other lot owners for the implementation of the plan, Ciron said.