Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Most airlines OK with fog

Mumbai: Had the fog been as dense as that of the previous years, there is little doubt that the chaos ? delayed and cancelled flights and hapless passengers ? would find an encore.
The Delhi airport has been bearing the brunt despite being equipped with Category III B instrument landing system, which is meant to facilitate aircraft landing and take-off in low visibility.
The reasons are the airlines are not investing enough either in training their pilots to fly in fog or upgrading their aircraft for CAT II, CAT III A and CAT III B landing systems.
The state-owned Indian Airlines is the only airline to have a large number of trained pilots to operate in low visibility conditions. It has nearly 400 pilots trained to operate in CAT IIII B conditions.
"The loss incurred on cancelling a two-and-a-half-hour flight due to fog is at Rs 1.87 lakh to Rs 2 lakh," said an airline executive.
But the cost of fitting an aircraft with CAT III A and CAT III B equipment would cost an airline anywhere between Rs 46 to Rs 55 crore. In addition, Rs 7 lakh to Rs 9 lakh has to be spent on training a pilot. Then there are refresher courses every six months.
12/12/06 P R Sanjai/Rediff