An airport sans safety device

A view of the tabletop runway of Calicut International Airport. (FILE)   | Photo Credit: S. RAMESH KURUP

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) seem to have ignored a proposal for using the Engineered Materials Arresting System (EMAS) technology to ensure the safety of the Calicut airport’s tabletop runway.

In fact, in the Reappraisal of Court of Inquiry Report on the Mangaluru airport accident of May 22, 2010, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had recommended to the DGCA to provide suitably designed aircraft decelerating system such as the EMAS at both the Mangaluru and Calicut airports which had tabletop runways.

The technology

The EMAS or arrester bed is a technology to reduce the severity of the consequences of a runway excursion.

The Federation Aviation Administration of United States Department of Transportation says that a standard EMAS installation can stop an aircraft from overrunning the runway at approximately 80 miles per hour, even if the Runway End Safety Area (RESA) length is less than standard requirement, an aviation expert says.

However Calicut Airport Director J.T. Radhakrishna said that the proposal was rejected for multiple reasons, including the high operational and maintenance cost. “Technical experts should be flown down from abroad in case of an overrunning aircraft and the runway would have to be closed for a several days,” he said.

Currently, the RESA is being widened to 240 metres from the existing 90 meters at both ends at the cost of ₹6 crore. Thus the length of the runway will be reduced from 2,850 metres to 2,700 metres. “The EMAS technology was unsuitable for the Calicut airport. How can we bear the cost of ₹100 crore for an imported technology,” Mr. Radhakrishna said.

Sources said that the two systems based on EMAS technology was proposed at Calicut Airport in September 2010.

The proposal was to install EMAS beds that would provide equivalent protection to narrow and wide-bodied aircraft in all weather conditions since land was not available for the expansion of the runway at Calicut Airport.

Over 100 installations globally

Experts said that the EMAS technology had been accepted internationally and there are over 100 installations all over the world, including one in Tibet. After intensive evaluation, EMAS was accepted by the AAI to ensure safety at the tabletop runways in the country and a proposal to install one at Calicut Airport was drafted in 2008, he said.

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Printable version | Oct 22, 2020 11:31:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/an-airport-sans-safety-device/article23378798.ece

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