Approval still needed for radars at Isle of Man Airport

Isle of Man Airport

Isle of Man Airport

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A replacement radar system is still not operational at Ronaldsway, more than three years after Tynwald approved funding for the project.

Infrastructure Minister Laurence Skelly told the House of Keys he believed the department was now in the ‘very final stages’ of getting approval from the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Airport officers, the CAA and radar manufacturer Selex ES were meeting to review work done since the aviation authority’s audit last month on Wednesday.

Tynwald voted to support the £3.4m project in December 2010, after hearing the primary radar – installed in 1965– was ‘life expired’ and the secondary one would lose its licence to operate after the end of 2011.

Since then it has been operating on an extraordinary extension to the licence.

Mr Skelly said: ‘The new radar systems improve safety, with additional features available to Air Traffic Control, greater capacity for expansion to provide wider, better coverage, and the ability to accept data from developing technology.

‘Clearly the airport is a key part of our strategy to build future economic success for the island and I am hopeful we will soon be able to switch over entirely to the new system.’

When asked what the issues were that meant the CAA were not giving accreditation, Mr Skelly said: ‘There have been an absolute multitude of different issues.

‘This is highly technical. To say it is just a straightforward software or hardware problem, it would be very difficult to define that.’

He said over the last three years the radars had seen ‘several breakdowns’: ‘As stated, this 1965 system does have issues. There are two major ones that I am aware of and they have cost £80,000 and £100,000 each.’

Malew and Santon MHK Graham Cregeen asked whether these costs would be passed on to the Selex ES.

The Minister replied: ‘The final account is not closed and we will be having ongoing discussions with regard to the finality of that.’

He insisted the current system, while ageing, was still operational.

When asked what contingency plans the department have in case the CAA don’t approve the system, Mr Skelly said: ‘Do we need a contingency? Do we need a different radar system? I do not believe we do. We are very close to finalising this.’

He said he didn’t know of any other country having a similar system approved radar.

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