Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Are authorities waiting for a disaster at Patna airport?

New Delhi: The crash of the Air India Express plane at Kozhikode airport on August 7 that killed 19 people raised a serious question about the safety of Indian airports. According to reports, the mishap took place when the plane overshot the ideal landing point and overran the runway.

This tragic incident brought the spotlight back on risky airports in India and some of them have really short runways. The Jaiprakash Narayan International Airport at Patna is a case in point.

To know about the flow of traffic, size of runway and security audit of the runway at Patna Airport, India Today filed a Right to Information (RTI) query with the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

We inquired about the length of the runway at Patna Airport. In response, the AAI Patna said, "Length of the Runway of Patna [is] 2072 M".

We also asked if it has been increased in the last five years. The AAI responded "No, this has not been increased in the last five years."

Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s are majorly the types of passenger planes that fly in and out of Patna airport. So, we asked, what is the ideal runway length for the safe landing of Boeing 737s and Airbus A320s? AAI refused to answer it saying "Data is Pertaining to Airline Operators / Agencies."

As per data from the Federal Aviation Administration, United States, the adequate runway length required for a safe landing of such Aircraft is 2,300 metres. This means that the 2,072 available at Patna is not adequate. It is even less than the length of Kozhikode airport's tabletop runway which is about 2,700 metres.

Answering the question if the Patna Airport has done any safety audit of the length of the Airport the AAI said, "No, such type of audit [has] not [been] done."

29/09/20 Ashok Upadhyay/India Today

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