Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Full up in sky, on ground: Pilots wary of Bengaluru diversions

Chennai: Airline pilots flying into Chennai now do a double take when air traffic control announces an emergency and diverts the aircraft they’re flying to Bengaluru. That’s because ATC may reroute them again, to another city, because of airport congestion — in the air and on the ground — in Bengaluru.
The matter has aroused their concerns enough for pilots to speak in one voice on the need for an alternate airport, in the event of emergency diversions, for flights landing in Chennai. Double diversions are potentially dangerous (any aircraft can carry a limited amount of fuel), the pilots say, and are always frustrating (pilots have permission to fly only a fixed number of hours daily because exhaustion is not conducive to maintaining a cool head and safely pilot a commercial jet).
One commercial pilot said night time congestion is building up in Bengaluru — schedules get so tight there around midnight that 20 aircraft or more are often in queue. It may not be feasible any more to divert flights to the airport and make them circle and wait for a slot to land, he said.
“Aircraft arriving in Chennai after between four and hours in the air may not have enough fuel to fly to another airport and then circle and wait for a landing slot,” he said.
He warned that this could lead to pilots declaring fuel emergencies to get landing priority.
After a tyre burst forced a runway closure at Hyderabad on March 29, most flights ATC diverted to Bengaluru eventually landed in Chennai. Pilots headed to Hyderabad had to first divert to Bengaluru and then fly to Chennai to land. This Chennai airport ended up taking more than 30 extra flights in one night.
10/04/18 Times of India