Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Pacific Aviation Directors Workshop held in Majuro, Marshall Islands

Palikir, Pohnpei (Dept. of TC&I/FSM Information Services): May 21, 2009 - The Aviation officials from the FSM had the privilege of being invited to the Airport Improvement Program Workshop from April 30 - May 1, 2009 and FAA Pacific Aviation Directors Workshop from May 4 - 6, 2009 under the auspices of the US FAA - Western Pacific Region and hosted by the Government of the Republic of Marshall Islands in Majuro, Republic of Marshall Islands.

In the AIP workshop, the FSM AIP Project Manager made two presentations on lessons learned and challenges during the accident of Asia Pacific Airlines at Pohnpei International airport and lessons learned and challenges in implementing the Airport Improvement Program projects in the FSM.

In the Pacific Aviation Directors Workshop, the three Heads of Delegations from the FAS countries, the Honorable Kenneth Kedi, Minister of RMI Transport and Communications, the Honorable Jackson Ngiraingas, ROP Minister of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce and the Honorable Francis Itimai, (Minister) Secretary of FSM Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure made opening statements on behalf of their delegations followed "Airport Manager Reports" from the Republic of Palau, Yap, CNMI, Guam, Chuuk, Pohnpei, Kosrae, Republic of the Marshall Islands, State of Hawaii and American Samoa. These reports cover a wide variety of topics from energy conservation efforts, ongoing projects status and future project or project wish list, to trainings.

At the end of each workshop day is a one-on-one session among industry leaders and facilitated by the FAA.

In the FSM one-on-one session, some of the topics of discussion include up-holding maintenance of airfields, advancing the capabilities of aircraft rescue and firefighting personnel with newly acquisitioned radios and medical trailors.

But the session was dominated by concern of the FAA in FSM's non-compliance to OMB (Office of Management & Budget) and Airport Officials' concerns of the delays in their AIP projects compared to the rest of the Micronesian countries. Mark McClary, Manager - FAA Western Pacific Region's Airport Division, was vocal in letting the FSM Delegation know that they are in the RED in terms of compliance to OMB requirements.

FAA grants from Sept. 08 and Feb. 09 were not drawn until now and this raises concerns at the FAA head-quarter's office as FSM may potentially lose these funds if these funds are not expended suitably on a timely basis. Secretary Itimai as head of the FSM delegation responded it making it clear that the process of obtaining local matching funds from the States is very lengthy and some of the delays are contributed by other partners in this program including the FAA as well.

Unlike the Republic of Marshall Islands and the Republic of Palau, the FSM has four airports and the FSM Dept. of TC&I has five layers of political beauracracies (FSM National Government and the four State Governments) to go through to obtain and process local matching funds.

Each of those layers has its own processing procedures to undergo. Secretary Itimai concluded by assuring the FAA that the FSM National Government and his department will continue to improve all the internal processing procedures to effectuate timely implementation of the program in the FSM and a positive signal showing great efforts is the fact that FSM has already come up through a recent grant award issued by USOIA with all the matching funds for the newly FAA awarded grants.

Secretary Itimai also stressed that he and his staff, Mr. Massy Halbert will continue to be pro-active in working with all the partners on the AIP Projects to prioritize this program and he encouraged all who are involved such as the state airport personnel, the FAA key staff, the construction managers (CM) and the contractors to also do their part in assisting to resolve impending issues concerning these very important projects.

The states were called upon to pro-actively include the airport maintenance activities and needs under the Infrastructure Maintenance Funds (IMF) as part of their annual budgets and to work with their respective state government leadership to enact legislations like the State of Pohnpei to prioritize AIP local matching funds and for FAA as the funding agency to work cooperatively with the client and implementing agency of the grant recipient government, which is in this case the FSM Department of Transportation, Communications and Infrastructure.

He strongly encouraged the consultants who are also the CMs to work with the contractors in expediting these projects and to expediently work with the owner to ensure that the projects met deadlines and quality standards as they are the owner's representatives to the project and the owner surely does not prefer to have sub-standard projects.

The FSM Delegation was headed by the Honorable Francis I. Itimai, Secretary of FSM Dept. of Transportation, Communications & Infrastructure and staffed by Massy Halbert, FSM AIP Project Manager. Representing the State of Kosrae were Mr. Westin Lukimis, Director of Public Works, and Wadel Kinere, Kosrae Port Authority's Airport Manager. Representing the State of Pohnpei were the Pohnpei Port Authoriy's Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Albert Panuelo as head of Delegation, accompanied by Mr. Ieske Iehsi, General Manager of PPA, Mr. Melson Dara, Airport Manager, Mr. Ron Reyes, Safety and Security Manager, Mr. Noel Camandador, Facilities & Contract Manager and Mr. Branson Sam, Maintenance Supervisor. Representing Chuuk State were Lukas Mori, Airport Manager and Naphan Aliven, Port Electrician. Yap State Delegation was headed by Mr. Manuel Malaichog, Deputy Director of Public Works & Transportation Department and his staff Mr. James Saremog, Chief of Contracts and Management, Mr. Fred Figir, Airport Manager and Mr. Victor Moonfel, ARFF personnel.

For further information on this release, please contact:

FSM Office of the President
Public Information: Press, Radio, Video
P.O Box 34
Palikir Station, Pohnpei, FM 96941
Tel.: (691) 320-2548/2092
Fax.: (691) 320-4356