The Air force authorities in Chandigarh on Wednesday stated that several misconceptions prevailed about the runway resurfacing work due to misinformation by certain “agencies” and assured that work was progressing at a fast pace. Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, the Air Officer Commanding (AOC), 12 Wing, Air Commodore S Srinivasan said that there was a lot of “technically incorrect data” being reported in the media and that much of this data was being given by some “agencies”.
“I have been in this appointment for the last five months. Sometimes when reading news, I find that there is not correct perception of work going on here. There is more news on people missing out on going to Dubai than on the fact that the military is also missing out on supplies to be flown to the northern areas due to the runway closure,” he said.
Thanking the Punjab and Haryana High Court to ensure coordination of work for runway resurfacing and placing him at the apex, Air Commodore Srinivasan said that by the end of the 7,200 feet of runway will be available for daytime operation of flights while the entire length of the runway at 12,500 feet would be available for daytime operations by the end of November this year.
The AOC added that the night-time operations would only be possible by the end of February 2019 due to the immense work that needs to be done for wiring the runway. “The wiring for lights will take time as the runway, taxiway and dispersal will have to be wired and this will happen by February 2019. Work will go on on the runway till August 2019 but it will not significantly affect the operations,” he said.
Stating that weather would be a variable in the completion of work, the AOC added that unseasonal rain, delayed withdrawal of winters and the forecast that monsoons could come this year a week earlier will play a part in the finalisation of the project.
Officers said work was being done in three to four phases. The central portion of the runway was being laid with multiple layers of bitumen with a total of eight layers to be put. As of now, six layers have already been laid and work on the central portion of the runway is well on time, they said.
When asked about the types of aircraft which would be able to fly from Chandigarh after completion of the runway project, the AOC said that aircraft like Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Boeing 777 and Airbus 330 will be able to operate from here. “Any aircraft below Airbus 380 and Airbus 340 can operate here. However, the induction of these aircraft will depend on the expansion of the Chandigarh International Airport terminal and facilities to accommodate these aircraft,” he said.
At present, the IAF is operating its transport aircraft from Ambala air base in order to ferry supplies, men and material to the forward areas in Jammu and Kashmir. “A total of 29,000 tonnes per annum are flown by the aircraft of the Chandigarh air base with an average of 10-15 sorties per day. The number increases in winters and is lesser in summers when the roads and passes open up,” the AOC added.