Finally, DGCA gives nod for operation of wide-bodied aircraft at Calicut airport

After a protracted fight by various stakeholders, including the State government, the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has given the green signal to resume the operation of wide-bodied aircraft Boeing 777-200 and Airbus 330-300 at the Calicut International Airport.

However, the resumption of the operation of both these types of aircraft under Code E comes with multiple riders for the Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines), one of the Haj operators and the only airline to submit a safety and compatibility study for the operation of wide-bodied aircraft under ICAO guidelines so far. The No Objection Certificate will also be reviewed after three years.

Air India, which commenced its safety and compatibility study Monday, is yet to submit its report to the DGCA. The Dubai-based Emirates, which used to operate from the airport, is yet to respond to the suggestion of the DGCA to carry out the compatibility study though the airline company had expressed its willingness to operate the flights.

Suresh Prabhu’s tweet

In his tweet from his official handle, Minister of Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu also made it clear that the final approval has been given in strict compliance with the mitigation measure to ensure the safety of operations. “The development of a separate greenfield block in Calicut airport for international arrivals is also nearing completion. This will help increase the annual passenger handling capacity of the airport from 3.5 million passengers to 5 million passengers annually, ” he tweeted.

The operation of wide-bodied aircraft was banned at the Calicut airport from May 2015 in the wake of the Court of Inquiry report on the Air India Express Boeing 737 crash in Mangaluru in May 2010.

One of reasons cited was that the tabletop runway had only a length of 2,850 metres designed to operate only narrow-bodied (Code- D) aircraft and that the Runway End Safety Area (RESA) of the airport was inadequate for the operation of aircraft under Code E.

Sources in the DGCA said that the the Saudia could operate the flights with Regulatory Take Off Weight (RTOW) not exceeding 248 tons. Restriction has been made for the operation of these flights during night for a period of six months.

Directives to AAI

Besides, AAI has been asked to include personnel with operation background in their runway safety team. Runway friction tests should be carried out periodically and one of them should be carried out before the monsoon.

The AAI should carry out calibration test of Instrument Landing System within specified period and the Aircraft Rescue and Fighting should be upgraded to Code D. Further, on-board ground proximity warning system and anti-skid system should be made operative at the airport. Sensitising pilots about the newly installed lights on the runway and securing accurate and updated meteorological information are some of the other conditions stipulated by the DGCA.

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Printable version | Jun 24, 2022 8:26:32 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/finally-dgca-gives-nod-for-operation-of-wide-bodied-aircraft-at-calicut-airport/article24650974.ece