Most flight diversions at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) happen because pilots are not trained to make landing in dense fog conditions, in which visibility can be as low as 50 metres, a senior official of Airport Authority of India (AAI) said Tuesday.
The Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which handles the IGIA, said Tuesday that it has enhanced its capabilities to manage operations safely during reduced visibility conditions at the airport.
The measures taken include setting up the new 102-metre high Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower — which became operational in August — procurement of thermal imaging headgear for personnel engaged in airside operations, and a 24×7 social media command centre.
S B Sharma, general manager of air traffic management at Delhi, said, “With the new ATC tower and procurement of world-class gadgets, air traffic controllers will be able to work with ease and handle more number of flights.”
He added, “Delhi airport’s collaborative decision making (DA-CDM) cell, which has representatives of ATC, domestic airlines and DIAL, works for better coordination among all the stakeholders, especially during periods of reduced visibility.”
Moreover, the runways 28, 29 and 11 at the airport are certified for CAT-IIIB operations, which allows compliant aircraft and trained pilots to land even when the runway visibility is down to 50 metres, a statement from DIAL said. The lowest visibility at which flights can take off is 125 metres.
On November 3, more than 30 flights were reportedly diverted at the airport due to poor visibility. Sharma said this was not because the airport was not prepared to handle such a scenario, but because flights were not equipped to make a landing in such conditions.
Dr R K Jenamani, director of IMD’s National Weather Forecasting Centre, said the number of dense fog days have reduced in the last few years, and with it the number of diversions have also reduced.
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