Friday, September 22, 2017

Pool resources to have disabled airport recovery kits at major airports, AAI tells airlines

New Delhi: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has decided to ask airlines to pool in resources and have disabled aircraft recovery kits at major airports to minimise the type of disruptions that Mumbai has faced twice in just over a decade for this reason. At present, only Air India has this kit in India.
AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra told TOI: "It (removing disabled aircraft from runways) is airlines' responsibility. I have been pursuing a model where all airlines hire a common agency on cost sharing basis to have such facilities at some major airports. But airlines so far are not willing. We will pursue this."
Agencies are clearly worried as the growing air traffic now does not allow an aircraft to keep a runway occupied for several hours and disrupt aerial connectivity to and from that city. "In 2005 when an Air Sahara plane got stuck on a Mumbai runway, the kit was sent by road from Ahmedabad. That time it took two to three days and even this time it took more than a day despite super human efforts by the AI aircraft removal team. The response time has to change and for that it is a must that airlines join forces, share expenses, to have disabled recovery kits at al major airports," said a senior official.
A senior aviation source said "piloting skills" are being looked at for the recent skidding of a SpiceJet plane in Mumbai. "The runway was subjected to friction tests before it was reopened for operations as per protocol," the official said.
In fact, Indian Air Force (IAF) had earlier this year asked airlines to station aircraft removal kits and trained personnel to operate them at its airports as sensitive defence airstrips are often blocked by schedule carriers' planes that get stuck there due to technical reasons for several hours there. IAF had warned that if airlines fail to do so their permission to operate flights to IAF airports like Jammu, Srinagar, Pune and Chandigarh could be cancelled.
22/09/17 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India