Liberia has finally become a proud beneficiary owing to months of a steady negotiation process at the behest of Liberia Civil Aviation Authority (LCAA) as a result of which Delta Air Lines has finally agreed to conduct a land mark pro bono test validation of the design of an RNAV GPS approach for Roberts International Airport (RIA).
Delta Air Lines generous approval came through a communication dated June 9, 2012, which was addressed to the Director General of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority, Richelieu A. Williams, and signed by Randy Rohan; Manager - Flight Operations (Africa, Asia/Europe), under the oversight of the Chief Technical Pilot - Delta Technical Pilot - Navigation is approved by the Federal Aviation Administration of the United Sates Government to design RNAV GPS approaches.
The letter clearly put: "In partnership between Delta and the Liberia CAA, we agreed to assist in the development of this approach. It is our desire that once Delta completes all steps of the design process, we will turn the approach over to the Liberia CAA for review and approval and then publish it in their Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) for use by all carriers operating into Monrovia".
According to Delta Air Lines, the process will entail Instrument Flight Procedure Validation (IFPV) of Satellite Based Instrument Flight Procedure (IFP).
Stage one shall involve IFVP Preflight Validation Process during which "Required Actions Prior to Airborne and or Simulator Evaluation obtains. This will be followed by Obstacle Assessment and will ensure Obstacle Assessment Overview; Equipment for Obstacle Assessments; Ground Obstacle Data Sources; Ground Obstacle Assessment Process; and Airborne Obstacle Assessment. The next stage under Flight Validation Program covers Flight Validation Process and Post Flight Validation Activities.
Delta Air Lines is also partnering with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) SO&I African office in Johannesburg as part of a broader initiative to advance the use of Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) within Africa and this project aligns with those goals.
Delta Air Lines will utilize 767ER aircraft from Accra to Monrovia with only technicians on board led by a Chief Technical Pilot and return for the purpose of Flight Validation on the RNAV (GPS) procedures into Monrovia The flight testing procedures to be carried out will involve a total of six full instrument approaches to collect data along with terrain and obstacle clearance identification. This data will be installed into of a flight simulator in Atlanta and flown to complete the design phase. It will later be sent to the FAA for review and clearance following which LCAA will give final approval to be published in the AIP for use in Liberia's airspace by all airlines arriving and departing RIA in keeping with Liberia's obligations and responsibilities to the International Civil Aviation Organization (IACO).
Receiving such major relieving news from a major American carrier for a cost-intensive initiative at no cost to the Government of Liberia, the Director General of the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority; Hon. Richelieu A. Williams commended Delta Air Lines for embarking on such invaluable and monumental technological project. He noted that when completed, pilots will effectively land and take-off with precision.
Mr. Williams described Delta initiative as a meaningful and monumental commitment to the development of hi-tech in civil aviation. Director Williams said the pages of history book will remember Delta's name, as a true, formidable, significant and genuine partner whose partnership is bound to tremendously impact the promotion and transformation to civil aviation in Liberia. In a jubilant mood, Mr. Williams added that it was a new day for Liberia and the aviation sector and expressed the hope that others will be inspired by the Delta's contribution to boost the civil aviation in the country.
The Director General however commended Ms. Boo Brewer of Delta Air Lines Monrovia office for her steadfastness, and resilience occasioned by consistent follow-ups at every level leading to the final realization of the test validation of the GPS approach for the country only international airport. Graciously, the Liberia CAA has already granted authorization and clearance to Delta to proceed with flight testing of Global Positioning System Approaches of the Roberts International Airport. Mr. Williams termed this very important development as the dawn of a new beginning in LCAA-Delta relations aimed at working together in the best of Liberia.
Given its precision approach capability, the GPS procedures when established and published for Robertsfield will allow all aircraft to land even when the visibility is lower than one nautical mile. As a boost to RIA, this also puts the airport in the position to be used as an alternate when the weather is bad at other airports in the region or when there is equipment failure.
Aviation experts have confirmed that this intervention by Delta Air Lines will constitute a significant cost-saving for the Liberian government due to the elimination of acquiring and maintenance cost associated with older and more expensive ground-based navigational aids including NDB, DVOR, DME and most Category 1 ILS equipment over Satellite Based Equipment. It also represents fuel-saving for airlines due to direct routing flown during positioning for approaches to land. Although FPA sees this as a feather in the cap of the LCAA; we shall endeavor in our next edition to find out how safe are Liberia's skies in light of recent accidents in Nigeria and Ghana amid the huge death tolls.