Madras Flying Club building pulled down

Airports Authority of India officials say the space will be used for straightening of a taxi track in the airport

June 24, 2019 01:19 am | Updated 01:19 am IST - Chennai

Another slice of the city’s history has been reduced to rubble. The 89-year-old building that housed the Madras Flying Club at the airport that groomed hundreds of pilots in the city was demolished by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) a few days ago.

AAI officials said the demolition was to give way for airport’s airside expansion work. Though the building (housing the club) was handed over for expansion work, the hangar (used by the club) with a few aircraft is yet to be pulled down, they said.

The AAI officials insist that they required the space for carrying out straightening of a taxi track in the airport.

To save fuel

“The straightening work has been on for many months now but will be completed soon. This work will improve efficiency, like saving aircraft fuel, as time taken to taxi to the main runway will be reduced and flight delays too are likely to come down,” an official said.

Letter to PM, CM

Jacob Selvaraj, honorary secretary, Madras Flying Club, had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami requesting the government to stop the demolition activity till alternate arrangements are made for shifting the hangar to the Tiruchi airport.

In the letter, he said: “We, the Madras Flying Club agreed to shift the flying club to Tiruchi airport, with the negotiation made by the government of Tamil Nadu, Transport Secretary. An MoU was signed between the Government of Tamil Nadu, Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Madras Flying Club in this regard, and the AAI has to provide accommodation at the Tiruchi airport. Though we are ready to shift operations to the Tiruchi airport, our appeal is that the building of nearly 90 years may be preserved by both governments.”

He said a two-acre land that was promised for establishing the club at Tiruchi airport has not been identified.

“Unless the land is identified by the AAI and given formally by the government, the operations cannot be shifted.”

“We will be needing that land for the hangar, constructing classrooms and other such facilities. Also, we haven’t been given airport entry passes to staff and students at the Tiruchi airport, without which we cannot begin functioning,” he said.

AAI officials at Tiruchi airport were not available for comment.

No classes for last 3 years

The club, which has about 250 members, has not held any flying lessons for the last three years. A member alleged that the airport entry passes were not provided to the flying club members leading to this situation.

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