From Paul Osuyi, Asaba
AFTER about eight years of construction work at the Asaba Airport, indications have emerged that the much awaited airport will be fully completed and ready for commissioning by March, this year.
Apart from the rehabilitation work on the runway and taxi way which has reached advanced stages, Daily Sun observed that the installation of Instrument Landing System (ILS) coupled with Air Field Lighting (AFL) system has already commenced.
The ILS and AFL are visibility guides and they aid the aircraft to come in without the pilot seeing the runway.
Chief Executive Officer of the contracting firm, ULO Consultants, Mr. Uche Okpuno assured a that not only that the installation of the ILS and AFL will be completed be March, rehabilitation work on the runway would be fully completed.
“After March, we officially hand over the airport and probably commission it. We are not only working on the runway and taxi way, if you go to the airport, you will see that the watch tower is nearing completion, not the control tower which has always be there.
“The concur, the furniture are all there and main building and for the first time you will see us use the passenger bridge. Once we conclude the rehabilitation work on the runway then in no time, the bigger aircraft will be coming,” he said.
Okpuno explained the importance of the ILS and AFL, saying that they were clarity instrument needed at the airport, and added that when finally installed, aircrafts can also land at night.
“There is a limit of visibility required for aircrafts to come to Asaba, it is about 4,000 to 5,000 feet but with an ILS in operation you will not need that huge visibility. With 800 feet, planes can come in when guided by the ILS.
“When there is foggy weather in Asaba, it is also foggy in Owerri and Port Harcourt but because they have existing ILS working, they don’t require all the visibility that we need in Asaba. Maybe when it is foggy in Port Harcourt they will just wait for the sun to come out and they have 800, 900 feet visibility, that is enough for them to land.
“But here, the whole day we might not even have 2,000 visibility, so planes can’t come. When ILS is fully installed, we won’t be requiring all that stretch of visibility for planes to land. If there is fog, and towards the afternoon, the visibility is up to 1,000, with the aid of ILS planes can land.
“But now they can’t land, the visibility we have now is about 2,500 feet. And then we have a limitation that planes cannot land beyond 6.00pm. If we had the Air Field Lighting as additional, then planes can come here anytime of the day and anytime of the night,” he stated.
It would be recalled that the airport which had its first flight in 2011 while construction was still on, was down graded by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) in April 2015, thereby barring bigger aircraft from the airport.
The regulatory body had urged the state government to rehabilitate the runway, the taxi way, construct perimeter fence and train aviation personnel if the status of the airport must be restored.