ILS installation could help PIA save billions
KARACHI: The unavailability of Instrument Landing System (ILS) facility for Karachi-bound flights coming from west i.e. Arabian Sea is making the national and foreign airlines bear extra fuel cost, thanks to indifferent attitude of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), a source in aviation industry told Business Recorder here on Saturday.
ILS is a system that helps pilots in landings in fair or severe weather conditions. This system is installed in Karachi on Malir side therefore flights coming from its opposite side i.e. Arabian Sea have to fly an extra 25 kilometres to land.
CAA by far is the wealthiest institution as it not only collects airport tax from passengers, and parking, landing and take off charges from operating airlines but also over-flying charges from the airlines using Pakistani airspace only to cross either to India while going to far east or into Muscat etc for Europe or UAE. These revenues run into millions a day but the airport terminals are pathetic while those using airspace only complain about faulty radar and untrained handlers of air traffic. “There are at least 20 to 25 arrivals a day from West which require 10 to 12 minutes radar vectors to land at RW-25L (Malir Side). The proposal is that if ILS System from RW-25R (RW-25R is closed for the last two years) is placed at RW-07R (Arabian Sea Side), it will save minimum 10 minutes radar vectors,” a source associated with Pakistan International Airline (PIA) suggested. This replacement will result in a saving of 250 minutes everyday, and each minute costs Rs 30,000/- on an average, hence the annual savings will reach at least Rs 2.2 billion to PIA only.
Similar is the case with landings at Islamabad airport. “There are 20 arrivals a day from North West, West, and South to land in Islamabad at RW-30 which requires 14 to 15 minutes of radar vectors including backtrack time on the runway,” added the source.
He proposed that if an ILS system is installed at Islamabad on RW-12, PIA will save at least 12 minutes of radar vectors and three minutes of backtrack time on the runway. An ILS installed at RW-12 will result in a savings of 300 minute everyday which means that the national flag carrier can have an annual savings of Rs 2.7 billion.
While saving is an important factor, safety is more important and ILS systems ensure the same. In Airblue crash in 2010 a major contributory factor was non ILS runway 12 on the Murree road side to which the Airblue flight was to approach for landing after the bad weather prevented it to use ILS based landing on runway 30, he said.
After this incident industry had expected some technical upgrading of facilities in the country but the CAA went on blaming the flight crew and made them a scapegoat. Still major runways like Peshawar airport which handles some UAE based airlines as well, does not have ILS equipment on either side of the runway. Source further suggested that only the savings, let alone the reputation through safety could have a multiple effect if an ILS system installed at Lahore RW-36R is upgraded and an ILS system is installed at Lahore RW-18L and Peshawar RW-35 as well. “Fuel consumption is a major cost to an airline, and PIA needs to focus their attention on this issue in order to maintain their profitability,” he said.
A smart and sincere approach to fuel efficiency management should be put in place, through which the maximum benefit could be delivered to the airline.
Installation of above mentioned ILS systems will also help other domestic and international carriers and would result in upgrading of Pakistan as safe landing destination for airlines in the region in case of medical emergencies, fuel shortage or technical faults, the source said.