Flight delays owing to air traffic congestion at the Mumbai airport have more than halved over the past few months. This is being accredited to streamlining of Air Traffic Control (ATC) procedures,automation of clearances and improvements made to enhance runway capacity.
The airport is one of the most congested in the country.
Delays owing to air traffic have reduced to about 3-4 per cent of overall departures delays,from 10-12 per cent about eight months ago,as per the performance reports of the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL).
In absolute terms,the number of departures delayed owing to air traffic at the Mumbai airport that caters to about 30 million passengers a year,have been slashed to between 10 and 40 per month for the past four months,from over 160 per month last year. Even for arrivals,pilots have to spend lesser time hovering over the Mumbai airport waiting for a window to land.
An Air India pilot who did not wish to be named said the ATC had streamlined several procedures.
For example,they are very strict about slotting now. We need to take clearance 20 minutes ahead of departure and have to be prepared for departure. If we are not ready to take off 20 minutes after clearance,we are pushed back in line so that the rest of the schedule does not go awry. Until almost a year ago there was no concept of slotting, the pilot said.
Pre-departure clearance,which is an authorisation the ATC gives pilots regarding the runway,route and cruising height is now on a data link communication system requiring no verbal communication at all,ensuring quicker clearance. Another pilot added that the number of rapid exit taxiways enable an aircraft to clear the runways faster.
An MIAL spokesperson said,We have improved the hourly runway capacity by closely working with airline pilots. There has also been a significant improvement in bay allocation for airlines and there are regular on-time performance meetings with all stakeholders concerned,which has helped make this possible.
Overall flight delays owing to reasons like weather,operations and crew,passengers,technical and so on have also decreased considerably over the past one year.
Strict slotting. Airlines need to take clearance 20 mins before departure.
Rapid exit taxiways enable aircraft to clear runways faster.
Regular on-time performance meetings with stakeholders.