Just a stone’s throw from Vanuatu’s tiny Lonorore Airport, on Pentecost Island, an ancient ‘’land diving” tradition is attracting worldwide interest in this remote corner of the Pacific. Accessing this remote spot, however, is notoriously weather dependent. Airways New Zealand and GroupEAD have been working with the Vanuatu civil aviation authority to develop a solution for the local airfield.
Following months of consultation and support, GroupEAD Asia Pacific – an Airways subsidiary – is visiting Pentecost this week, assisting the Department of Civil Aviation Vanuatu to increase the accessibility of the airport.
“Until now, our island hasn’t had any instrument approaches, so in bad weather or low visibility, aircraft haven’t been able to use the airfield,” says DCA Vanuatu Director Joseph Niel.
“GroupEAD has been providing us with the advice we need for the design of satellite-based approaches for each end of the runway, which will enable aircraft to land in all weather conditions,” he says. “We can’t understate the value of this for our island economy, which is increasingly reliant on regular tourism.”
Wayne Smith, GroupEAD Asia Pacific CEO, says the company has spent the last week working with the DCA, and is pleased to be able to assist the developing island.
“While we’re in Vanuatu, the DCA is also taking advantage of our presence to gather some advice on airfield approaches in other locations as well, so it’s very clear how valuable the new approaches will be to this economy,” he says.
Mr Smith says that while his team haven’t personally experienced the death-defying 30-metre land-diving drop the area is renowned for, they have been enjoying the clear aqua waters, pristine forests and the warm welcome of the Pentecost locals during the visit.