After 4 years, AAI plans to reintroduce cross runway operations at Chennai airport

Operations suspended after two aircrafts were on the same runway at the same time

Updated - May 03, 2022 04:16 am IST

Published - May 02, 2022 08:20 pm IST - CHENNAI

Chennai airport has two runways — the primary runway with a length of 12,000 feet and the secondary runway with a usable length of nearly 9,500 feet.

Chennai airport has two runways — the primary runway with a length of 12,000 feet and the secondary runway with a usable length of nearly 9,500 feet. | Photo Credit: B. VELANKANNI RAJ

Four years after cross runway operations were suspended owing to an incident, Airports Authority of India (AAI) once again plans to resume it later this year.

In cross runway operations, both the main and secondary runways are simultaneously in use to reduce congestion, bring down flight delays and increase the number of flights handled during peak hours.

Chennai airport has two runways — the primary runway with a length of 12,000 feet and the secondary runway with a usable length of nearly 9,500 feet. As of now, either of the runways is in operation.

Airports Authority of India (AAI) officials said they have been planning to bring back simultaneous operations to enhance the airside capacity and expand the number of flights operated in an hour. Currently, 36 flights are handled every hour and this may go up to 56 if both runways are simultaneously in operation.

“This can be implemented after the resurfacing work of secondary runway gets over in a couple of months. Before that, a safety study will be done by a team of officials and submitted to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). After its safety clearance, the simultaneous operations can be started at the airport,” an official said.

There AAI is considering two combinations. “When the main runway is used for both arrival and departure operations, only departures will be allowed on the secondary runway [this is the preferred combination by officials]. When secondary runway is used for departure and arrival operations, there will be only departures on the main runway,” the official said.

While theoretically, handling 56 flights an hour is possible with cross runway operations, in reality, there are a few challenges involved and may not be an easy task, AAI sources said. For instance, it could not be operational during bad weather conditions when visibility drops below or when the tail winds cross seven knots per hour and so on.

The cross runway operations were suspended a few months after commencement in 2018 when two aircraft were present on the same runway at the same time. Sources said that following this incident some safety measures were put in place to avoid such a dangerous recurrence in future.

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