Recent delays and cancellations at Lubbock's Preston Smith International Airport have been attributed to a problem with the airport's Instrument Landing System, or ILS.
Part of the problem is the overcast, low visibility weather. However, the big issue comes down to a technological problem the FAA is having with Lubbock's ILS. Their Instrument Landing System is not currently in operation. The ILS is a navigational aid used to help planes land in inclement weather.
Lubbock's airport has two ILS's, however, their additional one has been disabled because of runway construction. There is another device at the airport used to navigate planes, however, not all carriers use that technology.
Lynn Lunsford with the FAA says the ILS is important because it helps guide planes to about 200 feet above ground.
"Planes can use the ILS down to 200 feet. At 200 feet above ground, if the pilot cannot see the runway, then the requirement is they have to go around and either take another pass or divert to another airfield," Lunsford said.
Even without the technology of the ILS working correctly, there would still have been some delays or cancellations because of this week's overcast weather and fog.
Since Monday night, when the ILS began having issues, there have been at least five cancellations and at least three delays at the Lubbock airport. Merab Opiyo had her flight to Dallas delayed Tuesday evening, but learned it had been rescheduled back on time.
"My flight was supposed to be at 8:20 but then my husband called me from Dallas and told me my flight was back on time, so I had to rush back to the airport," Opiyo said.
Diego Garcia's flight to Houston was delayed for an hour. He wasn't aware of the ILS issues, and instead assumed the delays were because of the fog. He wasn't too upset by the delay.
"It's okay, it's not that bad," Garcia said.
Tuesday night, most delays ranged from five to 20 minutes long. However, there are some delays expected for Wednesday morning, so if you have plans to fly out, be sure and call your carrier ahead of time.
Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11