Monday, April 16, 2012

Singapore's Changi, a dangerous airport in heavy rain

edited 04/17/2012

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Singapore's unrelenting transport problems with the daily subway train breakdowns is in the news everyday. Put simply, it's train system is a lemon. Although it was built only a decade or so ago, it is simply junk. Not a day goes by without it malfunctioning stranding thousands in dark tunnels causing fear anxiety and danger to the entire population.

With the island packed as sardines with 5 million people cramped into an island only 16 miles north to south and 26 miles east to west, it is no small wonder why there have not been fatalities caused by human stampede, people trying to escape from dark tunnels and overcrowded train stations for their lives.

As if this were not enough, now Singapore Airport or rather Changi International Airport which Singapore propaganda claim to be the best in the world (almost everything in Singapore, according to them, is the best in the world just as everything in North Korea is the best in the world according to Kim Jong An) has now turned out to be one of the most dangerous airports to fly into.

Singapore's state controlled newspaper the Straits Times of April 16, 2012 has the story "Bad Weather leading to more flight delays at Changi airport"

According to the report "heavy rains and thunderstorms have caused flight delays and diversions in recent weeks and more hiccups are expected are expected".

This report shouldn't be surprising to anyone. Indeed it has not gone far enough. It should have said it is a very dangerous airport in inclement weather.

The problem is the huge thunderstorms which discharge a deluge of water, literally a flood of water, coming down as rain which causes almost a complete lack of visibility making it impossible to land.

Instrument Landing System (ILS) with which Changi is equipped can automatically guide an aircraft on a correct glide path electronically from a distance to above the runway, via electronic emitters adjusting the aircraft height through sensors on it's glide path approaching touchdown.

However at about 150 feet above ground the ILS has to be switched off for the pilot to land manually, so the pilot can visually see the runway center line lights, unless you are equipped with CatIIIc specialized equipment for zero visibility. In any case this would be useless on the ground as you cannot taxi in zero visibility.

With Singapore's torrential thunderstorms and a deluge of water pouring down as rain, visibility is reduced to almost zero if not zero and no pilot would see the runway even from one foot, let alone 150 feet. Blinded by the equatorial rain, you have no choice but to abort the landing and go somewhere else almost every day since that is how often you have these rains in the island. If not, you take a gamble with the possibility of 500 passengers dying in an A 380 on the tarmac.

Second, is the problem of rain water entering the engines. Huge amounts of water are sucked into the engines with air creating the serious possibility of their being soaked with water and engine failure.

Although modern aircraft engines have been designed to tolerate large amounts of water and still function, I don't think Singapore's equatorial downpours are something the manufacturers had considered in a daily occurrence.

No engine can survive if you are pouring buckets of water on it. And it will be an interesting thing to watch a huge aircraft losing all power just before landing at Changi. Engine failure just before landing is the worst thing next to engine failure at take off.

Add to that a runway awash with water and the possibility of aircraft wheels hydroplaning on touch down, you have an all round calamity just about to start.

Through no fault of the Lee ruling family of Singapore, climate change and global warming has caused Singapore's iconic Changi International, not only to become an unreliable airport but also a very dangerous one.

Frankly each time an aircraft is cleared for landing during these torrential down pours in Singapore, it is any one's guess whether you are going to have a landing or the world's worst air crash disaster since the one in 1977 Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain.

Remember each time Singapore has such torrential downpours which happen almost daily, it has to be the pilot's judgment whether he wants to take the risk and land or whether he requests a diversion. I hate to be sitting in an aiplane approaching Changi Airport in pouring rain and leave my life to that pilot's judgement. It is Russian Roulette.

Gopalan Nair
Attorney at Law
Disbarred from practicing law in Lee's Singapore, imprisoned and refused entry to the island for criticizing Singapore's judiciary in this blog (see blogpost May 29, 2008 Singapore. Judge Belinda Ang's Kangaroo Court)
Actively practicing law in California and in good standing at the California Bar.
Member in good standing as a lawyer in England and Wales (Barrister).
39737 Paseo Padre Parkway, Suite A1
Fremont, CA 94538, USA
Tel: 510 657 6107
Fax: 510 657 6914

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Anonymous said...

I'm sure that several flight delays and diversions are such a telling factor that our infrastructure is on the verge of collapse.

And you might want to note that it's spelled Kim Jong Un. not An.

Gopalan Nair said...

Thanks for the "un"

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the fast-rotting SINK-apore.

When the they collapse, the Lee family will take a ride out via the ark on top of Marina Bay Sands, leaving the rest swimming to their safety from a sinking ship.


Anonymous said...

It's Kim Jong Eun, under the current romanization system

Anonymous said...

Hi Gopalan,

Singapore train system disputed for the 3rd day in a row!


Anonymous said...

Yup I can see you are a true Singaporean indeed who cribs n complaints and cries like a baby for every small thing. Tell me Mr. Nair, how safe is your California? How brilliant is the infrastructure of "your" country ? I am not a Singaporean, your articles were an eye opener. But after reading 2-3 it felt like you are a cry baby.

Anonymous said...

If u've travelled frequently worldwide you should know that ALL airports hit by really bad weather will choose the wiser decision to delay or postpone a flight, rather than make a foolish decision to fly & risk planeload of passengers.