23 panels of false ceiling in new domestic terminal crashed early on Sunday

Twenty-three panels of the false ceiling in the departure hall of the new domestic terminal came crashing early on Sunday. This is the second such incident in the four months since the new terminal was commissioned.

In May, a similar number of panels caved in near the security hold area of the terminal. Officials had attributed the incident to heavy winds and thunderstorm.

Around 12.50 a.m. on Sunday, the gypsum panels of the false ceiling behind the Air India, IndiGo and Go Air check-in counters in the east wing caved in. As no flight operations were underway at that time, none was injured. The debris was cleared by 3 a.m.

According to an official statement issued by the airport, due to heavy condensation, the gypsum board located near the airconditioning diffusers had absorbed a lot of moisture and the panels had come loose of the screws and fallen.

Airport director H.S. Suresh said, “We will soon begin repair works and replace these false ceiling areas with lighter, non-moisture absorbing material such as aluminium metal strips or calcium silicate ceiling board. We have already identified the vulnerable spots. This will be done for both the new domestic and international terminal as we don’t want to face such problems in the international terminal.”

The massive repair work may be executed over 2-3 months and might not disrupt the operations in both the terminals as it would be carried out during the nights, he added. “We didn’t quite foresee this problem as false ceilings near diffusers are common. This incident may have occurred because the building is made of glass and steel which emit a lot of heat and induce such a problem,” he said.

Officials from Airports Authority of India (AAI) said the false ceiling material supplied by Armstrong Ceilings India may not have caused the problem. “We, certainly, don’t have defective material; it is of good quality. We are now trying to find out how to reduce the condensation process. The problem is also not with the temperature of about 22-24 degree centigrade that we maintain inside the terminal,” said an official.

The consultant would be visiting the terminal on Monday and suggesting measures to curb the condensation process, he added.

A structural engineering expert from IIT Madras said there are prescribed standards specifying how much moisture the gypsum board can absorb.

“In engineering parlance, we call this a ‘disproportionate collapse’ where the damage has surpassed the limits. Just as the structure begins to show distress, we must pay heed and replace the panels. It looks like the supporting grid did not firmly hold the panels. We need better workmanship,” he said.

Representatives of Armstrong Ceilings India were unavailable for comment.

Meanwhile, actor Kushboo who returned to Chennai from Hyderabad on Sunday said, “When I walked out of the aircraft and headed towards the baggage collection area, I found water droplets falling from the ceiling; there were buckets to collect this water. It is pathetic to see that toilets stink, water leaks and false ceilings collapse twice in just four months.”

FAILURE TO FLY – This is the second such incident in the past four months

January 31,2013 After a delay of five years, new terminals finally inaugurated but not thrown open for use

February 20, 2013 Faulty baggage ramp delays opening of new domestic terminal.

April 11, 2013 Operations finally begin at new domestic terminal

April 18, 2013 Leaking air-conditioning ducts reported

April 24, 2013 Passengers complain of pigeon droppings inside new domestic terminal

May 3, 2013 Over 10 glass panels in the terminal crack, later replaced

May 13, 2013 False ceiling panels inside new domestic terminal fall

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