July 18, 2014
News Update
Buoy to help produce high surf forecasts for Marshalls
A wave-monitoring buoy that will help National Weather Service authorities in the Marshall Islands produce accurate high surf forecasts, advisories and surf zone forecasts was installed earlier this month. Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) collaborated with partners to deploy a new Datawell Directional Waverider buoy named “Kalo” about one mile off the
eastern shore of Majuro. “Wave forecasting for the Marshall Islands is one of our most challenging tasks,” said Genevieve Miller, the Meteorologist-in-Charge of the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Guam. “The PacIOOS wave buoy has been an invaluable tool in supporting our goals to better understand and predict damaging waves affecting Majuro.”
Read more about the new wave buoy and what it will do for Majuro in the July 25, 2014 edition of the
Marshall Islands Journal.
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Airline's local flight plans dashed
Both Air Marshall Islands planes are grounded and neither plane is likely to fly before next week. It’s the latest setback for the government-owned airline that has seen its revenues plummet in 2014 as the Dornier-228 has been grounded since late March, and the Dash-8 was grounded at the weekend because its weather radar is not working. AMI flew the Dash-8 on the weekend despite a directive from the Directorate of Civil Aviation (DCA) that allowed the plane to fly only through last Thursday without the weather radar. The weather radar falls into what is known as a “Category C” of an airplane’s minimum equipment list (MEL) and when it was found to be broken, the DCA gave the airline 10 days to operate without it. “When this item is written up, it gives the airline 10 days to operate under this notice,” said DCA official Elmer Langbata. The airline is required to repair the equipment within the 10-day period or ground the plane. Aircraft rules also require a working weather radar for any international flight, although the plane can be flown without it domestically based on pilots’ evaluation of weather conditions within limits as determined by the DCA. The 10-day period expired Thursday. Despite this, the Dash flew on Friday and Saturday, according to DCA officials who said AMI officials claimed they believed the DCA had authorized the additional flights beyond the 10-day limit. “No, we didn’t authorize anything outside the MEL,” Langbata said. AMI could be subject to penalties for flying the plane, but he said it was pointless to penalize the airline, which is already experiencing numerous challenges to getting parts. Langbata said his office frequently gets blamed for enforcing regulations that result in grounding planes. But, he said, aircraft operation rules that the DCA follows and enforces are developed by the US National Transportation Safety Board and the US Federal Aviation Administration to prevent accidents and ensure the safety of passengers. Wednesday this week, AMI General Manager Jefferson Barton said funds for weather radar had been received by the off-island vendor, starting the process for getting the problem corrected. There is also positive news at hand for the Dornier, which has been grounded waiting for replacement landing gear to arrive. Barton said the landing gear has already shipped from the manufacturer and as of Wednesday was in transit in the United States on its way to Majuro. The arrival of the landing gear this weekend or next week means the Dornier could be back flying soon after four months in AMI’s hangar.
PII is seeking $14 million compensation from the FSM government, which terminated its contract late last year for a more than $25 million road and sewer project in Chuuk State. Pacific International Inc.’s claim for damages has launched a dispute process that could be solved short of lawsuits if the FSM government decides to seek mediation or binding arbitration. “We’re happy to go to binding arbitration,” said PII CEO Jerry Kramer, pictured. But, he said, if there is no positive response to resolve the claim without litigation, PII will file a lawsuit against the FSM. In the meantime, while PII’s huge claim is pending, the FSM government is seeking to
award a $7.7 million contract to Saipan-based construction company GPPC Inc. to complete the Chuuk work, which was reported as 90 percent done when PII was terminated in November. FSM President Manny Mori last week informed the FSM Congress that infrastructure sector grants of $4.5 million for the roadwork suspended by the Interior Department have been reinstated. An independent review of the project issued earlier this year determined that the FSM, not PII, was at fault in causing the many delays and cost increases the project in Chuuk experienced. The FSM, which reportedly began a 90-day review of PII’s claim in early June, has until September to issue a formal reply to PII. Mori told the FSM Congress he is hopeful the Saipan contractor can start work by early August. “The period of completion of the project is 15 months,” he said.