PENANG: Air space at two locations here – the Esplanade on the island and Pantai Bersih in Seberang Prai – has been declared “no-fly zones” for all aircraft from 10pm on Saturday until 2am the next day.
The two locations have been identified by the state Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) and the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) as “suitable” sites for the public to release their Kong Ming lanterns in conjunction with the Chap Goh Meh celebrations this Saturday.
State DCA manager Ooi Chuan Leong said that notices had been sent to all airports worldwide through computer networks to inform authorities about the freeze order.
RMAF at Butterworth had also agreed not to conduct flights on that night, he said.
“We are appealing to the public, especially those staying in the vicinity of airports, not to release any Kong Ming lanterns.
“We understand that many people have bought lanterns to be released on Chap Goh Meh but we hope the public will co-operate and release them only at the Esplanade or Pantai Bersih on that night,” he told a press conference yesterday.
Also present were Malaysia Airport Berhad (Penang) manager Hamid Awang, DCA deputy managers Mustaffar Kamal Daud and M.N. Sriharam and airport security officer Insp Faizal Mohd Radzi.
Ooi was responding to concerns raised over the possible recurrence of an uncontrolled release of Kong Ming lanterns during the coming Chap Goh Meh celebrations.
Last Saturday night, about 10 lanterns landed on the Penang International Airport runway after they were released with many others during the Thnee Kong (Jade Emperor) birthday celebration.
Ooi said that all flights arriving at Bayan Lepas airport on that night would be instructed to use the southern approach from the sea rather than from Penang Bridge in the north.
Ooi said that Section 201 (Annex 14) of the Malaysian Civil Aviation Regulation 1996 under the Civil Aviation Act 1969 required that DCA approval be obtained for any obstruction to be erected within a 15km radius of an airport runway.
Section 91 of the same Regulation, he said, barred balloons or kites from being released within a 5km radius of an airport.
In Penang, DERRICK VINESH reports that the Transport Ministry will conduct a study on dangers posed by Kong Ming lanterns before proposing amendments to the Act.
Its parliamentary secretary Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai said the study would include the possibility of having police monitor the situation.
“We hope to amend Section 91 of the Regulation to include Kong Ming lanterns among the objects disallowed from being released within a 5km radius of an airport,'' he said in a telephone interview from Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
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