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‘Mitigation strategies key before construction at airports’

With air traffic increasing across the world,airports have also been on an expansion spree.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | August 12, 2011 12:28:58 am

*ICAO safety adviser in Mumbai to train ATCs,MIAL,DGCA and BCAS staff in safety management system

With air traffic increasing across the world,airports have also been on an expansion spree. But this has come with its own set of challenges for aviation safety,which includes increased instances of runway incursions,management of airports while undertaking construction as well as dealing with manpower crunch,according to Captain Daniel Maurino,safety adviser to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Air Navigation Bureau and its Technical Cooperation Bureau.

“There is hardly any airport in the world that is not undergoing some sort of construction,” Maurino said during an interaction with journalists on the sidelines of a workshop on Tuesday.

Maurino — who has been working with ICAO for the past 23 years at its headquarters in Montreal,Canada — said this is going to be the chief challenge for the aviation industry in the years to come. He is in Mumbai this week to conduct a training session in safety management system for officials of the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL),air traffic controllers and officers of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Bureau of Civil Aviation Safety (BCAS). ICAO has conducted over 250 safety training sessions for global airports from 2006 to 2010.

When an airport is undergoing construction,the system is constantly changing. “You are altering the geography of the airport,changing the layout and bringing in all kinds of vehicles and contractors with no knowledge of aviation into the operational area,” Maurino said. He said it is essential for aviation officials to put in place mitigation strategies before undertaking any construction.

“Mumbai airport is an example,” said Prabhat Mahapatra,general manager (compliance and risk management),MILA,who was also present at this interaction with journalists. Mumbai airport has been constantly undergoing renovation work for the past few years. First,the secondary runway was recarpeted. In May,MIAL finished the renovation of the primary runway. Even now,the airport is building a new integrated terminal which will be completed by 2013.

Runway incursions is another global pattern that has emerged over the past few years. “This is one problem that has emerged as a consequence of increasing air traffic,” Maurino said.

“In the 1960s and 1970s,the aviation system was simpler and taxi time was not even considered. The system exploded in the mid-1980s. Today,there are instances when after pushback,one has to sit for 20-25 minutes before starting,” Maurino said.

This is also expected to lead to a crunch in manpower in the coming years. “There is an opinion that we will be facing a bottleneck in terms of trained controllers and pilots if nothing extraneous happens,” he said. In this case,nothing extraneous could be recession or some other incident involving the aviation industry that sucks away demand for air travel.

Maurino said the aviation industry will have to look towards better technology to increase efficiency while maintaining existing safety concerns. “Increase in air traffic will make runway safety a principle concern. Technology will be the solution,the solution is not human,” added Maurino,who was a pilot in Argentina until 2009.

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