Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Mumbai airport warning: Slowing area at runway end may not be up to task

Mumbai: Were a jet aircraft, upon landing, to overshoot one end of Mumbai airport's main runway (designated 09 by approach path) at high speed, it could risk a breach. The city airport is not table-top like Calicut, but the Air India Express crash has raised old concerns.

It has to do with RESA, or runway end safety area. The airport has two runways, 09-27 and 14-32, and four approach paths, 09, 27, 14 and 32. RESAs for runway paths 27, 14 and 32 are soft, yielding surfaces that would have the wheels of an overshooting aircraft plough in, decelerating it. But RESA for 09 is a hard, paved surface so that it can be used by aircraft for taxiing and lining up to take off on 27. An air safety official said an overshooting aircraft on 09 would head towards a jet blast shield put up near the airport's boundary wall, beyond which lies the Andheri-Kurla Road.

Incidentally, because 09 gets tailwinds for most of the year, it is largely used for flight operations only in the winter months of December and January, when wind directions change to make it unsafe to take-off/land from the opposite runway path, 27, the most used runway path of the airport, said a senior air traffic controller.

The aerodrome design manual of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) says RESA "should be so constructed as to reduce the risk of damage to an aeroplane undershooting or overrunning the runway, enhance aeroplane deceleration and facilitate movement of rescue and fire-fighting services". S Mangala, deputy general manager (aviation safety), Airports Authority of India, in a letter sent on Monday to the civil aviation ministry alleged that the hard RESA for 09 does not follow ICAO specifications. "In case an aircraft overshoots 09 and hits the... jet blast shield, even if a small burning piece flies over the boundary wall into nearby areas, it will set off a huge fire engulfing a large area,'' her letter read.
But a Mumbai airport official said, "RESA and jet blast shield are both as per standards laid down by the government."
12/08/20 Manju V/Times of India
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