Mangalore airport still unsafe
This is a discussion on Mangalore airport still unsafe within the RTI News & Discussion forums, part of the RTI News, Circulars and Decisions category; Reported by Tarun Shukla in Livemint.com on Aug 22 2012 Mangalore airport still unsafe - Home - livemint.com New Delhi: Flying to six of the 11 Indian airports classified as ...
- 08-23-2012, 10:54 AM #1
- Join Date
- Jul 2009
- Sajib Nandi
Mangalore airport still unsafe
Reported by Tarun Shukla in Livemint.com on Aug 22 2012
Mangalore airport still unsafe - Home - livemint.com
New Delhi: Flying to six of the 11 Indian airports classified as dangerous airfields continues to remain unsafe for emergencies.
This emerged after the airport operator in each of these airports admitted that the airports still have concrete structures at the end of the runway, a key reason for the Air India Express crash in Mangalore that caused the death of 158 people.
In a reply to a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by Mint, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) disclosed that Mangalore airport continues to have concrete structures at the end of the runway and that five other airports—Patna, Calicut, Jammu, Port Blair and Agartala—have similar structures.
Nothing has changed even though the crash happened in 2010.
An aircraft that overshoots the runway could hit a concrete structure, breaking its wing, spilling fuel and causing a fire.
“If an aircraft overun takes place at any of these airports, the fate of the passengers is in God’s hands,” said Mohan Ranganathan, an air safety expert and a member of the government-appointed Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council.
Most of these airports handle a lot of traffic, including international passengers, on a daily basis. Mangalore airport handled 2,937 passengers daily in May, Patna 3,081, Calicut 6,601, Jammu 2,979, and Agartala 2,446, according to AAI traffic data.
In comparison, Delhi airport on average handles 85,588 passengers daily.
AAI said it had tried to procure frangible, or breakable, structures, but failed to do so.
“The Directorate of CNS (Communication, Navigation and Surveillance) Planning initiated procurement of frangible glide path mast and housing of transmitters (localizer/glide path), but due to non-availability of frangibility criteria for these items from Icao (International Civil Aviation Organization), AAI could not procure glide path mast and frangible shelters for localizer and glide path,” AAI said in its 7 August response to the RTI.
Icao is a United Nations agency that was set up to promote safe flying.
The reply is at odds with an assurance given by civil aviation minister Ajit Singh in Parliament on 3 May.
Singh told Parliament that aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation had inspected 11 critical airports after the Mangalore crash and said these airports met “frangibility” standards.
“On the basis of suggestions in the inspections, following actions have been taken to enhance the safety at the aerodromes with the aerodrome operators: provision of runway end safety area, ensure proper marking on runway, proper maintenance of basic strip and ensuring frangibility area,” he said.
Singh didn’t respond to phone calls and messages seeking comment.
An AAI spokesperson said it was a work in progress. “We are replacing those structures in a phased manner all over the country. At least 30-40% is done. The remaining is in process,” he said.
A court of inquiry report on the Mangalore crash of the IX-812 clearly pointed out that the aircraft fire was caused when the Boeing 737-800 aircraft’s wing hit the concrete structure and fuel was spilled, leading to a fire. The inquiry found that the victims died from injuries from the fire and not because of the impact of the crash. It asked AAI to address the issue in Mangalore within six months.
“It is mandatory for all structures protruding above the runway safety areas to be frangible,” the report said. “At Mangalore, the ILS (instrument landing system) localizer antenna is mounted on a concrete structure.”
Ranganathan said, “If there was no concrete structure, the aircraft at Mangalore could have potentially taken off or at least there would not have been a fire improving the probability of passengers surviving the crash.”
For example, at Aizwal’s Lengpui airport, equipped with frangible structures, a Cessna Caravan aircraft overshot the end of the runway in May last year and passengers survived.
AAI in its RTI reply confirmed that of the 11 airports classified as dangerous, only Lenpui had a frangible structure.
Ranganthan said he would raise the issue with the government, especially in light of the fact that an international safety audit of India’s safety regulator by Icao is slated for December. The outcome of the audit impacts the commercial interests of the industry.
“Its about time the ministry and DGCA realize that safety of passengers is more important than being politically correct,” he said.