Wednesday, November 15, 2017

City airport all set to clear visibility hurdle

Kolkata: Trials for operating flights in dense fog and smog have been completed at the city airport, paving way for the commissioning of an instrument landing system (ILS) that allows landings and takeoffs even when visibility drops to 50 metre. At present, flights can operate up to a minimum visibility of 350 metre.
"We have completed three trials by qualified pilots on clear days when visibility was over 5,000 metre as stipulated by the regulator. The report of these simulations are being compiled to be sent to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for approval. Once it arrives, we will notify airlines and pilots through the Aeronautical Information Publication of India (AIPI) that Category IIIB ILS is available at Kolkata airport. Thereafter, any pilot qualified to operate in CAT-IIIB conditions can touch down or take off even when visibility is extremely poor," a source at Kolkata airport said.
CAT-IIIB ILS will help guide pilots with radio signals and high-intensity lighting to land during difficult visibility conditions. An automatic landing system is mandatory for CAT-III operations. The runway lights will also allow flights to takeoff when visibility is beyond 125 metre.
While the DGCA nod is expected some time December, the notification could happen only in January. Kolkata airport usually experiences fog towards December-end, which persists through January.
The good news is that once the airport is notified as CAT-IIIB compliant, runway visual range (RVR) or the distance till which a pilot can see clearly will not matter unless fog is so dense that there is near-zero visibility. Most of the aircraft, other than ATR, will be able to operate in low visibility.
15/11/17 Times of India