Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) has started testing a new Instrument Landing System (ILS) at Kuching International Airport days after the over-run of a Singapore Airlines (SIA) Airbus Industrie A310.
Malaysia's state-run news agency, Bernama, says the DCA has begun calibration tests on the new 3.6 million ringgit ($950,000) ILS, installed on 6 December for the single runway, using a Learjet 60. The agency does not specify when the system is due to become operational, however.
The tests come as Malaysia's transport minister, Ling Liong Sik, is defending the DCA and Malaysia Airports, which operates airports throughout the country including the one at Kuching, over the lack of an operational ILS at the airport.
Ling has said the Government "is looking into the matter" while cautioning that an investigation into the 29 January SIA over-run should be completed before the incident is linked to the ILS not yet being available at the airport.
Malaysian news reports quote pilots for Malaysia Airlines (MAS) as saying the lack of an operational ILS at Kuching airport has made it one of the "trickiest" in the country to operate to, given that it is prone to "unpredictable" weather conditions.
MAS chief pilot for safety and security, Capt Suhaimi Saman, is quoted by the state-backed New Straits Times newspaper as saying pilots have over the past year lodged "several complaints" with the DCA over the absence of an ILS at Kuching.
The DCA has responded by saying that the ILS has not been able to be calibrated for conditioning to date because of poor weather.
The SIA A310 was being operated as flight SQ186 to Kuching from Singapore when it overshot the airport's runway on landing in heavy rain at approximately 17:25 local time.
None of the 142 passengers and 12 crew on board was hurt in the incident, which forced the closure of the runway for 13h.
An SIA spokesman says the A310 was flown to Brunei for repairs before being returned to Singapore at 02:00 today.
He says the carrier is replacing the aircraft's nose landing gear "as a precautionary measure" before returning it to service "within two days".
The DCA says the A310 over-run is not the first landing incident at Kuching in recent years. It says an MAS Boeing 737 scraped a wing-tip on landing at the airport in heavy rain in February last year.