LAHORE - The new air traffic control system at Lahore airport failed on Wednesday forcing Civil Aviation Authority to divert two flights to other destinations for safe landing.

Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif inaugurated the Instrument Landing System at Allama Iqbal International Airport (AIIAP) Lahore five days back. The system was meant to help airplanes to land during poor visibility at the time of thick fog, rain or blowing snow.

Wednesday was the first day since the inauguration when there was poor visibility at Lahore airport due to fog. Early morning Qatar airways flight from Doha to Lahore was diverted to Karachi and second Airblue flight 413 from Sharjah to Lahore was diverted to Islamabad. A CAA officer feared more diversions.

In the recent past a former DG CAA in his interview with Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) had disclosed some flaws in another landing system already installed at AIIAP. He said adjustments in that system need to be done otherwise it could cause accident. Right after couple of weeks Shaheen Airlines plane skidded off the runway and was totally damaged. Luckily passengers remained safe.

A former Director General of CAA seeking anonymity said that system was installed without issuance of NOTAM from office of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Bangkok. CAA authorities claimed that issuance of NOTAM from ICAO was responsibility of Deputy Director CAA Regulatory. Though it was being said that landing system was gifted by Qatar government but some circles of CAA were of the view that it was given to CAA at the cost of some profitable routes of PIA like Faisalabad and Multan which were given to Qatar airways to operate. Shujaat Azeem had sent a team of 12 officers headed by Akhtar Mirza Deputy Airport Manager Lahore Airport for training to operate the system successfully. Sources in CAA claimed that same team was leaving for Dubai once again. Though the CAA had gathered data from foreign carriers and estimates for number of flights landing at Lahore airport but it was not considered as to how many planes had the compatibility for landing with the ILS Cat-III landing system that had been installed.

Spokesman for CAA Sher Ali said that system did not fail but pilots had diverted to other routes as they were not trained for latest landing system. “We informed various airlines five months back to impart training to their pilots for newly installed landing system”, spokesman said.

He said that on Wednesday two PIA flights landed at 100 metres visibility since PIA pilots were trained for ILS Cat-III. When contacted Aftab Gillani Joint Director CAA said, “ICAO does not issue NOTAM but it was issued by local authority CAA and we inform ICAO that we have upgraded our landing system”, he said.