A call has been made for Wick Airport to be the pilot for a state of the art landing system.
SNP MSP Rob Gibson and Councillor Jean Urquahart the SNP Westminster candidate for the Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross Consitusency, are calling on the Civil Aviation Authority to give the go-ahead for a GPS Satellite system to be tried out at the Caithness airport.
One of the key proposals of the Caithness and North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership is to fit all-weather landing equipment at Wick airport. However given the lack of action from Highlands and Islands Airports HIAL (which operates Wick airport) it was agreed by an SNP gathering in Wick at the weekend that a more radical solution is required.
Said Rob Gibson....
"Infrastructure improvements to our rail, roads, harbours and airport are key to the development of Pentland Firth marine renewables. While Kirkwall has a modern instrument landing system ILS, it's time Wick was spared so many cancellations due to fog and low cloud.
"I have not been impressed by HIAL in anticipating the need for reliable air link to bring in experts for Dounreay decommissioning and very soon the high tech personnel required in marine renewable development. No more need for taxis from Aberdeen for diverted passengers, thank you.
"It seems that worldwide we will be moving towards the universal use GPS landing systems. I have been reliably informed that GPS systems, Satnavs, in our cars are fitted in aircraft. I believe that Wick airport would be an ideal pilot project for GPS landing equipment."
Cllr Urquhart who has written to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said....
"Aviation management is a reserved matter for the London Government. I believe the CAA should press ahead with a GPS trial at Wick. The airfield is an open site with limited traffic and is often affected by fog and low cloud. While the ILS system installed at Kirkwall can help aircraft land safely down to 200 feet, I understand that GPS is capable of landing in zero visibility and installing the necessary ground equipment is cheaper than ILS.
"The airport for the Far North deserves to have cutting edge landing gear. Our marine renewable prospects are on the frontiers of technology, they deserve an aircraft management system to match."