The absence of an Instrument Landing System (ILS) at Seletar Airport was first raised by Malaysia’s Firefly then-chief executive officer Ignatius Ong on October 2017. Ong was also Malaysia Airlines group chief revenue officer.
In an October 2017 interview with FlightGlobal, Ong indicated that the lack of an ILS – required by turboprop aircraft – at Seletar was a major obstacle to the proposed move there.
The ILS is a system that helps pilots chart a glide path to land their aircraft on the runway safely, especially when visibility is low. The ILS is not used on departing aircraft.
Ong also said that if Seletar Airport wants to be “a proper commercial airport”, it needs to install an ILS so aircraft can land there at night or in times of poor visibility.
Before the ILS was installed, pilots can only land at Seletar if they have a clear view of the runway. The airport is not able to receive aircraft in bad weather.
Seletar Airport has been going upgrading works as part of its expansion plans since 2008. In early 2012, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) indicated that the ILS will be installed at Seletar Airport by 2014. The ILS only completed installation in late 2018.
Firefly was scheduled to relocate to Seletar Airport on Dec 1, 2018 before the issue of the ILS cropped up between Singapore and Malaysia.
Malaysia posited that Singapore’s installation of the ILS at Seletar airport involves a flight path over Malaysian airspace without permission.