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FAA to “flight check” airport’s instrument landing system this week

HAL will decide on flight schedules once inspection is complete

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Moving up the timetable, the US Federal Aviation Administration will conduct a “flight check” later this week of new antennas recently installed for the Instrument Landing System (ILS) at Pago Pago International Airport, says FAA spokesman Ian Gregor.

And Hawaiian Airlines says it will await the outcome of the flight check before making a decision on its current flight schedule, which was changed late last month, to arrive and depart Pago Pago during daylight on Tuesday and Friday mornings.

As previously reported by Samoa News, the airline changed the days and times of its flights due to the FAA's need to replace the ILS at Tafuna airport. And the new flight schedule runs through mid July this year, when the airline says it was expecting the ILS to be back in service. (See Samoa News edition Apr. 23 for details.)

FAA explained last month that it took down the ILS on March 23 to make repairs and it was expected to be back in service on Apr. 11. However, a flight check on Apr. 9 found the ILS wasn’t working properly. Further investigation found that new antennas were needed and were also ordered with service expected to be restored in July after a flight check. (See Samoa News edition Apr. 25 for details.)

Last Friday afternoon, Gregor provided to Samoa News the latest development on the ILS, saying that FAA “has installed the new ILS antennas and they appear to be working well.”

“Now they need to be flight checked to make sure they are working as intended,” said Gregor, whose official title is Public Affairs Manager of the FAA Pacific Division based in Los Angeles.

“The flight check was originally supposed to happen in July but we moved it up to... May 16-18,” he said via email from Los Angeles. “Pilots will be able to use the system as soon as it passes the flight check.”

Responding to Samoa News inquiries over the weekend, Hawaiian Airlines spokesman Alex Da Silva said the Honolulu-based carrier was informed by the FAA of the new flight check date.

“We will be able to make a decision regarding our schedule following a successful flight check and FAA approval,” said Da Silva from Honolulu when asked if the airline will return its Pago Pago schedule back to Monday and Thursday evenings if the flight check passes FAA inspection.

There have been mixed reactions to Hawaiian operating in and out of Pago Pago during daytime hours with some supportive and others disagreeing. One big concern is from travelers who have to connect to the mainland, as they claim that by the time the flight from the territory lands in Honolulu, the mainland connecting flights have already departed forcing them to stay overnight.