Three flights were cancelled and one flight diverted to Mactan International Airport last Friday.
This was the scenario at the new Bohol Panglao International Airport (BPIA) which surprised hundreds of passengers who got stranded in Manila after two flights of Cebu Pacific and the morning flight of Philippine Airlines were cancelled due to “zero visibility.”
A fully loaded AirAsia plane from Manila was diverted to Mactan International Airport on the same day.
The passengers through the PA system of the planes were advised of a “zero visibility” and “lack of navigational aid” thus the flights were cancelled and diverted.
Department of Transportation Sec. Arthur Tugade who was in Bohol Saturday to inaugurate the Philippine Ports Authority’s (PPA) administration building at the Tubigon Port said there is nothing lacking as far as the navigational aid at the new airport is concerned.
However, further verification made by the Chronicle revealed the new BPIA has no ground-based navigational aid at the moment.
Captain Dexter Comendador, CEO of AirAsia told the Chronicle during an interview that he Bohol Panglao International Airport is in need of an ILS (Instrument Landing System). Without which, planes are unable to land during heavy rains with “low cloud ceilings and very poor horizontal visibility.”
Because of the absence of ILS, planes are using their RNAV VIS (area navigational visual approach pattern) which is satellite-based (GPS). This has higher limits than an ILS Approach, he said.
He said the airline companies were informed that the ILS will be installed by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAAP) by the first quarter of 2019.
However, he said the ILS is very costly (about $200 to $400 million) and difficult to maintain as it requires a special aircraft to calibrate its beams at a regular time interval while it is also projected to be obsolete in a decade.
Airline companies are suggesting to CAAP to instead use P-RNAV (precision RNAV) which is the next generation to ILS-like approach using GPS. This is significantly cheaper to install and maintain. However, only modern planes of PAL and Cebu Pacific can use the system as of the moment.