KUALA LUMPUR: Civil aviation authorities from both Singapore and Malaysia will work together to develop GPS-based instrument approach procedures for Seletar Airport, replacing the Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures which were recently withdrawn, the transport ministers from both countries said on Monday (Apr 8).
Speaking at a joint press conference held at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Singapore’s Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan emphasised that the new procedures will ensure safety for flights departing and landing at Seletar Airport.
“We will introduce GPS-based instrument approaches from both the north over Pasir Gudang and south over Singapore island,” said Mr Khaw.
“This is because airplanes take off and land into the wind. With north-east and south-west wind directions at different times of the year, both approaches are needed,” he added.
Monday's press conference comes after both countries reached an agreement on airspace issues.
They announced last Saturday that Singapore has withdrawn the ILS procedures for Seletar Airport, while Malaysia indefinitely suspended its permanent restricted area over Pasir Gudang.
The agreement paves the way for Malaysian budget airline Firefly to resume operations. Its flights to Singapore were suspended last December, after it was unable to obtain approval from Malaysia’s aviation regulator to move its operations from Changi Airport to Seletar Airport.
The ILS procedure refers to an assisted navigational aviation facility at the airport which provides vertical and horizontal guidance to pilots while the flight is descending and approaching the runway.
It would have allowed pilots to land in all weather conditions, even when visibility is low.
Mr Khaw said ILS had been put in place at the request of Firefly.
Malaysia, however, objected to the procedures, saying the flight path would impact developments and shipping operations at Johor's Pasir Gudang.
Singapore has said that the ILS simply puts on paper the existing flight paths, making safety rules clearer and more transparent.
It has also said that the procedures do not impose any additional impact on other airspace users, as well as businesses and residents in Johor.
On Monday, Mr Khaw said the GPS-based instrument approach procedures will be published soon, after they are finalised.
"We have to discuss, both regulators have to sit down and discuss it. And once that’s settled, we should be able to publish. I personally don’t see many obstacles," he added.
SINGAPORE TO APPROACH AIRSPACE ARRANGEMENT REVIEW WITH “OPEN MIND”
The transport ministers also said that a high-level committee has been set up to review the existing airspace arrangement, under which provision of air traffic services over southern Peninsular Malaysia has been delegated to Singapore.
Mr Khaw noted that Malaysia has expressed its wish to take over control of air traffic service provision in the airspace concerned.
“I explained to Minister Loke that the current arrangement was brokered by ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) at a 1973 Regional Air Navigation Meeting. It was agreed upon by states in the region, and approved by the ICAO Council," he said.
"Minister Loke stressed that the review was important to Malaysia. I assured him that Singapore would approach the review with an open mind, bearing in mind the many stakeholders involved and the critical need to ensure safety and efficiency in a busy airspace," Mr Khaw added.
“With goodwill and compromise, I am sure that a win-win solution which does not undermine each other’s core interests can be found."
Mr Loke, on his part, reaffirmed Malaysia's desire to review the existing airspace arrangements.
"We wish to manage the airspace. That is our desire and we think that after 45 years ... it is high time we review the agreement. We are ready technically, we have invested a lot of money in equipment and our (air) traffic control readiness," he said.
The high-level committee will be co-chaired by Singapore's Permanent Secretary of Transport and Malaysia's Secretary General of Transport.