By : Elizabeth Zachariah
The poor state of the runway is another danger to aircraft and its passengers at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport. August 1, 2013.The poor state of the runway is another danger to aircraft and its passengers at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport. August 1, 2013.Malaysia's second busiest airport -- the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) -- has been operating without an Instrument Landing System (ILS) since upgrading works a few months ago, raising fears of an accident similar to the Asiana crash in San Francisco last month.
PKR deputy secretary-general Darell Leiking revealed that the ILS was removed to facilitate construction works on the runway and to date, has not been re-installed, despite the runway being used for flights.
The ILS - a ground based instrument - combines radio signals and high intensity lightning to provide precision guidance to the pilot when approaching and landing on any runway. In the San Francisco crash on July 6, the ILS had been switched off.
"I hope that a better system would be put in place but I am told that the ILS is the most appropriate landing system and used all over airports in Malaysia and in the world.
"Without the ILS, many pilots are finding it difficult to land in bad weather and at night," the Penampang MP added.
The absence of the ILS, Leiking noted, has caused many flights to be delayed, especially during the rainy season.
"My question is, if this is true, why is this important instrument not re-installed?"
He disclosed that the guidance system currently being used at KKIA is the basic non-precision approach known as VOR (VHF Omnidirectional range) and the DME (Distance Measuring Equipment).
"I was made to understand that this system is not as accurate compared to the ILS, especially during rain. This has caused unnecessary delays.
"Since the main contractor for the upgrading works on the airport had their contract terminated sometime last year, the taxiway is still not completed and most of the taxiway's lights are also not functioning," Leiking said, adding that the overall condition of the airport was deplorable.
"The maintenance of the airport is very poor, including non-lighted runways and overgrown grass surrounding the runway, which covers the signages. Another complaint received is the uneven surface of the runway," he added.
The same problem, he went on, could be seen on the perimeter roads linking Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, used by airport staff and fuel trucks.
He called on Malaysia Airport Holdings, the Transport Ministry and the Department of Civil Aviation to investigate these complaints and review the safety of the KKIA and its facilities.
"The authorities should issue a written assurance to the public that there are no possible dangers posed at the airport especially without the ILS," he said.
The KKIA is one of five international airports in the country and the second busiest after KL International Airport (KLIA).
On Oct 25 last year, the KKIA was closed for a night after the runway lights malfunctioned, forcing several incoming and outgoing flights to be cancelled or rescheduled and leaving many passengers stranded.
In the San Francisco airplane crash early last month, it was found that the ILS at the airport was turned off when a South Korean airliner crashed into the runway at an awkward angle, killing two people and injuring more than 100 others. - August 1, 2013 (TheMalaysianInsider)