HISTORY has been created for Taro (CHY) airport in Choiseul Province after a ‘Proving Flight’ was successfully conducted to the airport by Solomon Airlines Dash-8 aircraft on Tuesday.
The aircraft touched down at the upgraded Taro Airport just around lunch time and its landing proved the capability of the airport to accommodate larger aircrafts.
A handful of people gathered at the airport to witness the historic landing.
A top official from the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) confirmed to Solomon Star on Wednesday that Dash-8 successfully conducted the ‘Proving Flight’ to Taro airport.
“As we speak Dash-8 has successfully landed in Taro as part of a ‘Proving Flight’ to try out the new upgraded airport before it (Dash-8) can start operating into Taro,” he said.
Onboard the aircraft were officers from the Ministry of Aviation & Communication (MCA), pilots and flight attendants.
One of the local senior pilots who travelled onboard the aircraft Geoff Posala described the test flight as; “History in the making today. Dash8ing into CHY aka Taro Island for the first time!”
He also shared photos of the upgraded airport.
No passengers were on the proving flight. However, some cargoes were delivered by the aircraft
At the Taro Airport, the MCA officials also inspected the runway and tarmac.
Once approved, Dash-8 will start flying into Taro soon.
It is part of the National Government’s improvement plan for the aviation sector to upgrade all the provincial airstrips is to allow them to accommodate Dash-8 flights.
The flight came as the Dash-8 aircraft resumed its services on Tuesday after undergoing engine replacement.
It made its first commercial to Santa Cruz on the same day (Tuesday).
On Wednesday morning, the aircraft travelled to Gizo before making the inaugural flight to Taro.
The arrival of the 32-seater aircraft generated so much excitement amongst the residents of Taro, reports reaching Solomon Star yesterday said.
Some residents have gone to social media to express their excitement to see Dash-8 successfully touch down at Taro.
“Taro special day landing of our Dash 8,” a resident commented.
Next week, a high-level delegation from Honiara, including Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare and the Minister of Communication and Aviation Peter Shanel Agovaka, are expected to travel to Taro for the officially handing over of the upgraded airport.
Once opened, the airport will come under the custody of the Solomon Islands Airport Corporation Limited which came into operation on October 1.
SIACL is a State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) formed by the government to manage all airport infrastructures nationwide.
The Taro airport was closed for about 8 weeks since August 28 to undergo upgrade works.
Solomon Airlines resumed its flights to the airport on October 23 using its Twin Otter aircrafts.
The Airport Upgrade was made possible under the Solomon Islands Provincial Airfields Upgrade Project (SIPAU) Project.
Seghe Airstrip in Marovo is now undergoing similar upgrade after a groundbreaking ceremony was held more than a week ago.
By MOFFAT MAMU