Safety at PNG airports compromised


Wed 27 Feb 2013

Papua New Guinea
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PORT MORESBY, PNG ---- Safety and security of air travellers are compromised at major airports throughout PNG, according to a confidential brief.

The brief outlines the status and level of safety and security for airports under the management of National Airports Corporation (NAC).

It raises, among other aspects, the concern that 13 out of 21 aerodromes in PNG are not certified nor have they renewed their compliance certification due to critical safety issues.

The following major national airports are without compliance certification:

*Nadzab – runway pavement failure, faded runway surface markings and reduced airport rescue fire-fighting (ARFF) category due to lack of manpower and insufficient fire-fighting equipment;

*Madang – runway surface markings faded and does not provide accurate visual guidance to pilots during taxi, approach and take-off manoeuvres;

Mt Hagen – critical overgrowth of vegetation and trees obstructing aircraft transitional, approach and splay areas, and close to nil ARFF category due to lack of manpower and insufficient fire fighting equipment; and
Vanimo – recurring aerodrome runway, taxiway and apron surface failures.

“If the above were not rectified, the potential of a major air disaster at our national airports are imminent and may result in significant loss of lives and properties worth millions,” the brief states.

“The current situation calls for immediate remedial action on the part of NAC, Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), Department of Transport and other stakeholders, before we are faced with a serious aviation incident that can result in loss of lives.”

Under civil aviation regulations, any aerodrome that serves an aircraft with seating capacity of 20 seats or more must be certified.

All 21 national airports in the country services aircraft with more than 20 seats and therefore need certification.

The responsibility for certification of these aerodromes and maintenance rests with NAC which owns, operates and maintains them on behalf of the state and its people.

According to the brief, the number of certified aerodromes were halved from 16 to eight.

Five other aerodromes – Daru, Girua, Kerema, Mendi and Tari – are not certified “because they do not meet minimum requirement for certification”, according to the brief.

“The reduction in the number of certificates due to non-renewals by CASA indicates that the airport is non-compliant to safety standards and therefore unsafe for aircraft operations. As such, the safety of travelling public is jeopardised.”

The travelling public pay a fee of K10 for security and K10 for terminal facility every time they buy an airline ticket.

These fees are collected and paid to NAC to perform these functions.

The question raised in the brief was this: “Where has all the money gone and NAC cannot fully comply with aerodrome certification requirements and putting lives at risk?”

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