MOT releases documents detailing extensive discussions on Seletar Airport airspace issue

Seletar Airport’s control tower. (FILE PHOTO: Yahoo News Singapore)

The Ministry of Transport (MOT) has released documents pertaining to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore’s (CAAS) consultations with its Malaysian counterpart on the implementation of Seletar Airport’s Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures.

On Tuesday (4 December), the Malaysian government said that it would reclaim its airspace over southern Johor from Singapore in phases between 2019 and 2023.

Putrajaya also sent the Republic a protest note over the latter’s decision to operate its ILS for Seletar Airport near the border with Johor, despite the former’s objections. Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke said that his country wants to protect the sovereignty of airspace and development around Pasir Gudang in Johor.

Minutes of Dec 2017 meeting between aviation authorities

According to MOT, the ILS procedures were shared with the CAAM during an Aviation Consultative Committee (ACC) meeting between Malaysia and Singapore in Kuala Lumpur on 5 December 2017.

MOT published an extract of the minutes of the meeting, which stated that CAAS had presented its implementation plan for the Seletar Airport ILS, together with a broad timeline from its installation period to its effective date, which was scheduled on 16 August 2018.

A draft Instrument Approach Chart was also presented at the meeting. The minutes extract noted that CAAM said it would take the plan back to study the details.

Email asking for updates on issue

MOT also released two emails between the two aviation authorities.

The first was on 6 December 2017, when CAAS returned to Singapore after the ACC meeting. The email summarised what CAAS had presented at the meeting, and included an official contact for CAAM should it require more information to support its assessment.

The second email was dated 6 June 2018, a day before CAAS had planned to publish its Seletar Airport ILS procedures on an Aeronautical Information Publication supplement. In the email, CAAS had asked for updates from CAAM on this issue.

More meetings, requests for feedback

An MOT spokesman noted that CAAS management met its Malaysian counterpart on 7 August to provide more details on the ILS and request CAAM’s urgent operational feedback. Another email was sent on 15 August, stressing the urgency of the matter, but there was no reply from CAAM.

The ministry added that CAAS continued to engage CAAM via emails, letters and at the sidelines of an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) event. On 29 November, the two authorities met in Singapore, where CAAM raised their technical concerns with the ILS procedures.

CAAS addressed the concerns, and conveyed its intentions to publish the procedures on 1 December. On 30 November, the two authorities met again in Kuala Lumpur to recap what was discussed at the meeting the day before, and CAAM did not raise new concerns.

Proposal in line with ICAO standards and procedures

Noting Malaysia’s desire to provide air traffic services for the airspace, MOT said any proposal should ensure that the safety and efficiency of airspace is not compromised and is in line with ICAO standards and procedures.

Saying that a win-win outcome is possible for the two countries, it said, “Singapore and Malaysia are close neighbours, who have had a long history of cooperation and friendly competition. We need to work together to tackle our common challenges and find constructive ways to resolve our differences when interests diverge.”

During a doorstop interview at Seletar Airport on Tuesday, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan also stressed that any changes to airspace arrangements cannot be unilaterally introduced without the involvement of all stakeholders.

The ongoing ILS issue has affected Malaysian budget carrier Firefly, which said last month that it would be suspending flights into Seletar Airport from 1 December.

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