Malaysia’s Transport Ministry “fully convinced” that CAAS could solve ILS issue “with some creativity”

The conflict surrounding Singapore’s implementation of the Instrument Landing System (ILS) for Seletar Airport can be resolved with some “creativity” on the part of the Republic’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAAS), said Malaysia’s Ministry of Transport (MOT).

Malay Mail reported that the MOT, in a statement on Wednesday (12 Dec), said that it is “fully convinced that with some creativity, the new ILS procedures for Runway 03 on the southern side of Seletar Airport, guaranteed by CAAS during the meeting with CAAM [Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia] on 29 November 2018, would not impose any additional impact on other airspace users as well as businesses and residents in Singapore.”

Touching on Singapore’s MOT’s rationale for releasing the details of the consultations on December 4, Malaysia’s MOT responded that “it would be useful for negotiations to be kept confidential to facilitate frank and constructive exchanges.”

It added that the discussion that took place on 30 Nov was merely a review of the discussion that took place the day prior to that, with the focus being on the new Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures for Seletar Airport, the Operational Letter of Agreement 1974, and Malaysia’s desire to reclaim its sovereign airspace which has been long granted to Singapore for the purpose of carrying out air traffic services.

Reaffirming its widely known stance regarding the implementation of the ILS, Malaysia’s MOT reiterated that “Singapore’s unilateral move to publish the new ILS procedures for Seletar Airport in the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) Singapore is indeed a clear violation of Malaysia sovereignty and international law and standards.”

“The ensuing tensions between both countries, is indeed unnecessary and can be avoided by implementing the new ILS procedures for Runway 03 on the southern side of Seletar Airport, as opposed to Runway 21 on the northern side,” added the Ministry.

The same day, Singapore’s MOT, in its press release, announced that “Singapore would need to put in place instrument flight procedures for both the northerly and southerly approaches into Seletar Airport.”

The Ministry said that in a meeting on 29 November 2018 between CAAM and CAAS, it has maintained that “Singapore would need to put in place instrument flight procedures for both the northerly and southerly approaches into Seletar Airport.”

“Flight procedures for both directions are necessary because aircraft land and take off into the wind. In this region, winds blow from a north-easterly direction for half of the year, and a south-westerly direction for the other half of the year.

“Therefore, flight procedures for a southerly approach cannot safely replace all flight procedures for the northerly approach.

“Hence, CAAS explained to CAAM that in addition to the current ILS procedures for the northerly approaches into Seletar Airport, CAAS will also be implementing instrument flight procedures for the southerly approaches,” said Singapore’s MOT.

Rejecting Malaysia’s claim that the implementation of ILS procedures for the northerly approach into Seletar Airport is a “clear violation of Malaysia sovereignty and international law and standards,” Singapore’s MOT said that “the nature of international civil aviation is such that flights have to traverse the airspace of different States,” adding that it is “not uncommon for flight procedures to/from airports in one State, especially those near other States, to traverse the territories of neighbouring States.”

“This does not entail a violation of the sovereignty of the States being overflown. The instrument flight procedures for some Malaysian airports also extend into the territories of neighbouring States,” stressed Singapore’s MOT.

“Singapore respects Malaysia’s sovereignty,” it added, maintaining that “cross-border airspace management is not incompatible with sovereignty.”

“The purpose of airspace management is to ensure the safety and efficiency of air traffic.”

In its rebuttal against Malaysia’s claim, Singapore’s MOT said: “Malaysia had agreed to Singapore’s management of the airspace over Southern Johor in 1973 and a bilateral agreement was signed in 1974 to operationalise this agreement.”

“The ILS procedures for Seletar Airport were published in accordance with Singapore’s responsibilities under the relevant ICAO requirements as well as the bilateral arrangements with Malaysia,” said the Ministry.

“Singapore had nonetheless consulted Malaysia since December 2017 in the spirit of goodwill,” it said, and claimed that “Malaysia has never raised any objections to the existing flight profile in place for Seletar Airport which the ILS procedures adhere to.”

The Ministry, however, added that “in the spirit of cooperation and mutual benefit, we are prepared to discuss Malaysia’s technical concerns in good faith.”

“On 4 December 2018, Malaysia Minister of Transport Anthony Loke stated that Malaysia would be giving Singapore its counterproposal.

“We look forward to receiving Malaysia’s counterproposal, and would be pleased to meet with Malaysia thereafter,” concluded Singapore’s MOT.