Kozhikode

No end to woes of Calicut airport

The Calicut International Airport has completed the work  on Runway End Safety Area expansion.

The Calicut International Airport has completed the work on Runway End Safety Area expansion.

The woes of the Calicut International Airport seem to be continuing even after the completion of Runway End Safety Area (RESA) expansion work as the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) are still indecisive over resumption of operation of wide-bodied aircraft.

Sources said the DGCA wanted the airport authorities to fix the RESA issue of the table-top runway when the AAI had given the green signal to allow Emirates, Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines), and Air India to operate wide-bodied aircraft to destinations in the Middle East. This was one of the primary reasons cited for dilly-dallying the proposal.

Besides, the DGCA had asked these airline companies to take up a compatibility study and safety assessment in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organisation requirements and propose a risk mitigation plan for identifying hazards at the airport.

Now, after the partial closure of the runway for six months, RESA has been widened to 240 metres from 90 metres at both ends. Incidentally, this has reduced the length of the runway to 2,700 metres from 2,850 metres. But this does not mean that the airline companies are unable to operate the modern versions of Boeing and Airbus, the sources said.

Previously, both the AAI and the DGCA had rejected the proposal of Engineered Materials Arresting System (EMAS) technology to ensure safety at the airport saying that the widening of RESA would be enough in case of an aircraft overrunning the table-top runway. Airline companies had expressed their preference to operate Boeing 777-200 Extended Range, Boeing 777-200 Longer Range, Airbus 330-300, Airbus 330-300R, Boeing 777-300 Extended Range, and Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner.

Several organisations and political parties have been seeking resumption of operation of wide-bodied aircraft under Code E ever since the ban was enforced in May 2015. Now a political decision may even be required to speed up the process, the sources said.

Significantly, the airport had been the embarkation point for Haj pilgrims from Kerala and Lakshadweep till 2014 until the Ministry of Civil Aviation shifted it to Kochi when the airport was partially closed from June 1, 2015 to March 1, 2017 to strengthen and re-carpet the runway.


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Printable version | Jun 12, 2022 3:13:49 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/no-end-to-woes-of-calicut-airport/article24283531.ece