With the winter fog in sight, the Netaji Subhash Chadra Bose International Airport will soon be CAT-IIIB compliant, which will allow aircraft to land even under 50-metre visibility. At present, an aircraft requires at least 350-metre visibility to land safely at the airport. The central government had announced the upgrade in December 2015.
“The upgraded runway (that is CAT-IIIB compliant) will be operational from November. With the new system, the delays due to fog during winter will be brought down to a great extent,” said Atul Dixit, Airport Director.
CAT-IIIB is an instrument landing system (ILS) that will help guide pilots to land during difficult visibility conditions. The ILS guides an aircraft with the help of radio signals and high intensity lighting. An automatic landing system is mandatory for Category III operations. “During peak fog, flights at other airports too are delayed. Now those close to Kolkata can be diverted here,” said another official. “This will also help pilots land the aircraft easily during heavy rainfall.”
The main runway has two sides – one for planes landing from Madhyamgram area and the other for flights that land from Rajarhat area. The Madhyamgram side will remain CAT II compliant while the Rajarhat side will be upgraded. The work to upgrade the runway began last year. As per a technical expert it is good that the work related to upgrading the runway is near completion but it is equally important to see if Boeing aircraft are equipped to use CAT IIIB ILS. It is important that they have trained pilots too, they said.
“Once this is operational at Kolkata airport Flight operational reliability will be enhanced immensely,” said Captain Sarvesh Gupta, chairman of the airlines operators committee (IATA).