Utilisation of full length of tabletop runway at Calicut airport mooted

AAI looks at proposal to construct elevated RESA

March 16, 2022 07:29 pm | Updated 07:30 pm IST - Kozhikode

The existing runway at the Calicut airport was shortened from its earlier length of 2,860 m for increasing the RESA four years ago.

The existing runway at the Calicut airport was shortened from its earlier length of 2,860 m for increasing the RESA four years ago. | Photo Credit: File photo

Even as the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is remaining indecisive on the matter of giving its approval to resume the operation of wide- bodied aircraft at the Calicut international airport, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is looking at an ambitious proposal to use the full length of the airport’s 2860-m tabletop runway and reconstruct its Runway End Safety Area (RESA).

Sources said the AAI authorities had mooted an option to utilise the land in its possession as well as acquire additional land, totalling 20 acres, for the expansion of the RESA. The development comes close on the heels of the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s decision to cancel its order last month to reduce the length of the runway for the expansion of RESA. 

If that order had been implemented, the runway would have been further reduced to 2,540 m from the existing 2700 m, thereby permanently scuttling the demand to resume the operation of wide-bodied aircraft at the airport.

The AAI, the sources said, would explore the possibility of identifying land for increasing the RESA by 240 m, on both sides of the runway, a mandatory provision of International Civil Aviation Organisation for tabletop airports. In fact, the existing runway was shortened from its earlier length of 2,860 m for increasing the RESA four years ago.

Modalities for expanding the RESA would have to be worked out in the coming months as the next re-carpeting and strengthening works of the runway was due in 2024. One of the options was to construct an elevated RESA instead of filling the terrain on both sides of the runway so as to reduce the cost, sources said.

The expansion of RESA at Calicut airport was recommended in 2012 after the Reappraisal of Court of Inquiry Report on the Mangaluru airport crash. This was after the Air India Express from Dubai overran the tabletop runway at Mangaluru airport and crashed down the hill at its far end in May 2010, claiming 158 lives.

Incidentally, glaring similarities were found between the Mangaluru accident and the Air India Express aircraft crash at the Calicut airport on August 7, 2020, that killed 21 persons. The expansion of RESA is vital for a tabletop runway to reduce the damage when an aircraft overrun during landing or a rejected take off.  And more importantly, it is crucial for the Calicut airport to resume the operation of wide-bodied aircraft, sources said.

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