Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Calicut airport did not implement expert panel’s suggestion for runway safety bed

The recommendation of an expert committee to prepare safety beds on tabletop runways that have limited space was not implemented at the Calicut International Airport in Karipur. A panel of experts that investigated the Air India Express plane crash in Mangalore in 2010 had directed the Airport Authority to set up EMAS (Engineered Material Arresting System) on all tabletop runways in the country. The safety bed is a surface of concrete that gets crushed and sinks when an aircraft’s tyres run on it, thereby slowing down a flight that has overshot the runway and aiding in bringing it to a halt. The DGCA committee was of the view that such a safety bed was essential on the tabletop runways at Kozhikode and Mangalore, where space is limited for the runway end safety area (RESA). The EMAS is laid between the runway and RESA and is usually 90m in length. The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has also recommended that the EMAS should be made mandatory at ‘critical’ airports where flight landing needs more skills than usual.

When RESA was developed in 2011 and 2017 after the Mangalore plane crash, there was a demand for the EMAS facility. However, the Airport Authority did not consider it, stating that each such surface would cost about Rs 100 crore to build and maintain. Eighteen people, including the pilot and co-pilot of an Air India Express flight from Dubai lost their lives, when it overshot the tabletop runway at the Karipur airport while landing in heavy rains. The aircraft fell into a valley 35 feet below and broke into two portions on Friday night. The last time an EMAS proved its utility was in 2018 when a Boeing 737 that had overshot the runway was stopped in its tracks at an airport in California.
11/08/20 Ajay Ben/The Week
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