The Department of Civil Aviation in Mzuzu has to wait until the airport is relocated to another area to purchase a new aircraft signaling device to replace the old one which was disassembled by unknown vandals a decade ago.

Mzuzu Airport Commandant, Oscar Chihana, in an interview Tuesday said the malfunctioning of the device, situated at Luwinga Township (three Kilometres North of the airfield), has made the airport’s operations difficult.

According to Chihana, the device, which stopped working in 2005, was used to assist approaching aircrafts to know the direction of the airport as well as distance to the landing area.

He said the airport officials have been and are currently relying on hand-held devices as a long term tentative solution to direct aircrafts to the landing field as purchasing a fixed aircraft signaling device is very expensive.

“The fact that the planes have been landing safely throughout the period, even in the absence of fixed signaling equipment, does not mean it is not of great importance. What makes it so special is that it was able to send signals to aircrafts hundreds of miles further than the instruments we are currently using [can do].

“The current state of the [fixed signaling] device is beyond repair. The only solution is to purchase a new one, but it is very expensive. Since there are plans to relocate the airport to another location, we will wait until it is done for us to buy another fixed aircraft signaling equipment,” said Chihana.

He added that lack of funding is what has been delaying the progress of relocating the airport to another location away from the city.

The Mzuzu Airport boss however insisted that the land where the vandalized fixed signaling device was installed will remain property of the Department of Civil Aviation even when the airport is relocated to another area, but he could not state what it will be used for.

Government’s plan to relocate Mzuzu Airport is a very old one but it has not yet identified the funds for the long-awaited project.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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