Plans to upgrade Matsu airports to improve safety, boost tourism: CAA

10/11/2020 07:02 PM
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Beigan Airport (IATA airport code: MFK). CNA file photo
Beigan Airport (IATA airport code: MFK). CNA file photo

Taipei, Oct. 11 (CNA) The Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said it plans to improve two small airports on the outlying island of Matsu to meet transportation needs, improve aviation safety and boost tourism.

At present, due to the prevalence of strong wind and fog, flights to the two airports -- Beigan Airport on Beigan Island and Nangan Airport on Nangan Island -- are often disrupted by poor weather and visibility.

To meet transportation needs, the CAA has proposed to allocate NT$300 million (US$10.4 million) over three years and NT$1.8 billion over 10 years, respectively, to upgrade the two airports, starting in 2022.

According to the plan, the CAA is expected to install an Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS), a passive safety system that quickly decelerates an aircraft and brings it to a safe stop in case of an overrun, at Nangan Airport.

The CAA is also scheduled to install an Instrument Landing System (ILS), a guidance type of navigation that provides an instrument-based technique for guiding an aircraft to approach and land, at Beigan Airport.

By doing so, the minimum visibility requirement for landing at Beigan can be reduced from 2,400 meters to 1,400m, so the percentage of flights disrupted by fog or other weather conditions can be largely reduced.

Beigan's runway will also be lengthened from 1,150m to 1,500m in the future, according to the plan.

The proposed improvements will increase aircraft capacity to 56 passengers per flight to 70 at Beigan Airport, according to the CAA plan.

Nangang Airport Director Weng Ting-huang (翁丁煌) told CNA that the EMAS is expected to improve safety for aircraft during landing at Nangan Airport, which is very often affected by strong side winds.

The ILS, meanwhile, will allow nighttime take-offs from the Beigan Airport that is normally only suitable for daytime take-offs and landings, according to Weng.

Beigan Township head Chen Ju-lan (陳如嵐) told CNA that the upgrading of Beigan Airport is scheduled to reduce the flight cancellation rate of the airport from the existing 12.2 percent to 4.8 percent, an improvement that would mean a major boost for Matsu, which depends heavily on tourism, Chen said.

He also said the airport, currently located at the fairly densely populated Tangqi Village will be relocated to the less crowded Fengshan area to reduce noise for the residents.

(By Chiu Yun and Joseph Yeh)

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