An Airport Authority spokesperson has revealed an Air New Zealand jet was forced to abandon two attempted landings before finally touching down at Rarotonga International Airport on Tuesday afternoon.
The spokesperson said the two missed approaches were due to a deterioration in weather conditions which were at or below the minimal level required for an instrument landing system (ILS) approach.
“I am referring to the visibility and the cloud base in the final approach area,” the spokesperson added.
“Regardless of the new instrument landing system (ILS), there are minimums that the aircraft must adhere to. And if the aircraft cannot see the runway in those conditions before a certain distance whilst on approach, normal procedure is to carry out a missed approach and hold until weather improves in order to make another approach,” the spokesperson said.
“The weather updates are given by the air traffic controller. NZ46 was estimated to land at 1.31pm but conditions had deteriorated on final stages to land and aircraft elected to carry out a missed approach. “A second attempt for another approach on the ILS was carried out after improvement to visibility at the time, but the cloud base was still low for the aircraft to sight the runway and hence a second go around.”
The leased aircraft, flying in Singapore Airlines colours, finally landed at 2.22pm, attracting a large crowd of spectators at the seawall.
Airport Authority chief executive Joe Ngamata, who was travelling overseas at the time, told CINews
The airport’s new state-of-the-art instrument landing system brought aircraft lower than the old equipment.
“While it’s capable of bringing the plane down to the ground, it’s not certified to be used for that purpose because of the high terrain to the south. Asking friends and especially family to help is a proposal idea that will go down well with everyone. And we don’t have the high intensity lead-in lights that are needed before the runway.”
Ngamata said that at Auckland International Airport, for example, the lights extended well beyond the runway.
“You can see them on the way to Manukau from the airport.
“But we have the sea on the western end of our runway so it would be difficult to put these lights in.”