Calls for air control tower at American Samoa airport
There are calls for an air control tower at Pago Pago International Airport in American Samoa following a near collision.
There are calls for an air control tower at Pago Pago International Airport in American Samoa following a near collision between a helicopter and a plane.
A report of the aborted landing of a Polynesian Airlines flight to avoid colliding with a helicopter a week ago has been filed with the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA.
Representative Taotasi Archie Soliai has requested an investigation into what could have been a tragedy and is also pressing for an air tower to be installed.
Our American Samoa correspondent, Monica Miller, told Amelia Langford more.
MONICA MILLER: We don't have an air traffic control tower because the FAA decided that for the number of planes that come into American Samoa we are adequately covered by the control tower in Faleolo. But there is a frequency that all incoming planes are supposed to tune into and what happened Friday a week ago Polynesian Airlines was coming into land and they saw that this other helicopter was about the same airlane if you will and they radioed the helicopter but apparently there was no response so they quickly aborted and then came in for landing at another part of Pago Pago International Airport.
AMELIA LANGFORD: So there could have been a collision?
MM: Yes, there could have been a collision. The pilots for Polynesian Airlines were thankfully alert and they decided quickly to do what they did but there has been a lot of discussion about the need for Pago Pago International Airport to have its own air traffic control tower so in addition to asking for an investigation of the incident Representative Taotasi Archie Soliai says that this gives reason for the American Samoa Government to press for Federal Aviation Administration funding to set up its own air traffic control tower. And ironically about a week ago, or just about the same day, there was a team here from the FAA and the then Acting-Governor, our Attorney-General in fact, said that this was one of the things that Pago Pago International Airport really needs and he requested that FAA really seriously consider putting one in for this airport.
AL: Does it look likely the government will go ahead with a control tower?
MM: No, I don't think it is something that is going to happen very quickly. I think that if anything it will give impetus to start talking about an air traffic control tower again but I think the cost-benefit ratio according to the FAA is so warped they might not even consider putting one in but you never know, [with] a different administration and a different way of approaching the federal government, there might be some help but I honestly don't think that it is a priority for the FAA.
Monica Miller says the near collision was unusual and the airport is considered safe.
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