MOT explains why Seletar Airport-bound flights cannot amend their flight paths and enter solely from the south

It's because of regional winds.

Joshua Lee | December 13, 2018, 03:17 PM

Earlier this week, Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke posted this video explaining why Malaysia objects to the new Instrument Landing Systems that Singapore wants to use for Seletar Airport:

An Instrument Landing System (ILS) is a precision landing approach that pilots use to help them land in times of low visibility. In the past, pilots flying to Seletar Airport have been using visual approaches to get to and land on the runway.

For Seletar Airport's case, the northerly approach's ILS procedures pass over southern Johor - which Malaysia claims infringes on their sovereignty and poses height restrictions that prevent development.

Instead, Malaysia suggested that aircraft entering Seletar Airport do so using a southerly approach.

MOT responds

On December 12, Singapore's Ministry of Transport (MOT) issued a news release rebutting Malaysia's claims about Seletar Airport's ILS.

In a nutshell, here's what MOT said:

  • Aircraft depend on wind direction to take off and land.
  • In the region, wind direction changes between north-easterly and south-westerly throughout the year.
  • Therefore, Seletar Airport requires ILS procedures for both southerly and northerly approaches.
  • This was previously conveyed to Malaysia on November 29.
  • Extending the ILS procedures into Johor airspace is not a violation of Malaysia's sovereignty.
  • Singapore manages this airspace as part of a 1974 bilateral agreement with Malaysia.

Another issue pointed out in Loke's video was that Seletar Airport's ILS procedures will stifle development at Pasir Gudang, hence restricting the building of tall buildings in South Johor.

Experts said that new landing system will not affect height restrictions for planes

Experts that The Straits Times spoke to said that this is inaccurate.

Seletar Airport ILS procedures already accounted for tall structures in Pasir Gudang, and Malaysia had not advised Singapore on any upcoming structures that will affect flight profiles for Seletar Airport-bound flights.

If Malaysia has such developments in the pipeline, Singapore will assess them to ensure continual flight safety.

Seletar Airport ILS procedures can also be further adjusted if needed.

Additionally, Pasir Gudang Port is not subjected to additional risks or restrictions as claimed by the video.

Singapore has been managing both air traffic and vessels in the Strait of Johor for more than 30 years.

The Singapore Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) also has a Vessel Height Measuring System in place to ensure aircraft and tall sea vessels do not get into each other's paths. CAAS will also hold back flights to allow tall vessels to pass in the Strait or Johor. 

Earlier yesterday, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan told the media that Loke's video contains a few inaccuracies, including a misguided understanding of how the ILS for Seletar Airport works. 

However, Khaw said that he is confident a "mutually satisfactory technical solution" can be reached out of goodwill if Malaysia has a legitimate technical concern.

Similarly, MOT ended its statement with the assurance that Singapore is willing to discuss Malaysia's technical concerns "in good faith", and looks forward to Loke's counter proposal for Seletar Airport ILS dispute.

You can read MOT's full news release here.

Top images via Anthony Loke's Facebook page.


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