Government of the Federated States of Micronesia

Historic landings made on Pohnpei, Chuuk

POHNPEI, Palikir (FSM Information Service): August 2000 - The first Continental Micronesia Boeing 737-800 series landed here today at 12:55 p.m. before a small crowd gathered to see this historic event at the Pohnpei International Airport.

The Continental jet had just flown from Chuuk International Airport where it joined festivities marking that airport's new terminal and runway facilities.

Aboard the aircraft were FSM President Leo A. Falcam who had boarded the airplane on Guam for its maiden flight through the Federated States of Micronesia. From here, the plane flew to Kosrae with all but about six seats filled.

The significance of this plane over previous Continental aircraft is its ability to carry a full load of people, whereas the Boeing 727 weight restriction limited the number of passengers filling the 150-plus seats.

Speaking briefly before dignitaries gathered at the still unfinished departure lounge, President Falcam called attention to the type of improvement the Continental aircraft is making to the island, calling it private sector driven. The President pointed out that improving the economy of the FSM by developing the private sector has been one his administration's goals since he came into office.

Bill Meehan, president of Continental Micronesia, who was also on the airplane, quickly acknowledged the President's immediate support of Continental's offer to bring in the 737-800, a year and a half ago and the efforts he made in assisting Chuuk in getting its runway readied for the Boeing 737-800.

Meehan said that Continental is part of the family here; thus, it is part of the economy.

Meehan presented President Falcam and Governor Johnny David's representative, Podius Pretrus, with model 737-800 airplanes. Meehan presented Akilino Susaia, Pohnpei Port Authority general manager, with a plaque from Continental Micronesia thanking the Pohnpei Port Authority for its support in bringing in the aircraft.

While Continental Micronesia has been using the Boeing 737-800 elsewhere, because the Boeing 737 engines sit low, the runway at the Chuuk State International Airport had first to undergo repair before it could land there. Thus, before the aircraft could come to Pohnpei, it was imperative that Chuuk's runway first be repaired. This was completed a couple of months ago.

Some facts about the Boeing 737-800: This aircraft costs $50 million. One engine on the Boeing 737 is more powerful than the three engines of the Boeing 727. The plane holds 14 in business class and 141 behind business class. The plane has a crew of eight, plus two mechanics. One mechanic only works on the left side of the aircraft; the other mechanic only works on the right side. This is considered a safety feature. Furthermore, each engine has a suction zone of 15 feet. At throttle speed, it will suck in a filled 55-gallon drum. Furthermore still, the airplane is much quieter than the Boeing 727.

Air Nauru has been landing a Boeing 737 at Pohnpei for some time, but its aircraft is slightly smaller than the 737-800. Continental has been operating the Boeing 737 from Guam to Yap since the first week March of this year.

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