At-risk airports: Centre agrees to hear PIL petitioner

Ministry of Civil Aviation.   | Photo Credit: / @MoCA_GoI

The Ministry of Civil Aviation agreed in the Supreme Court on Monday to hear a PIL petitioner who wants the installation of the Engineered Material Arresting System (EMAS) in at-risk airports, more importantly in table-top airports in Kozhikode and Mangaluru.

Appearing before a Bench led by Chief Justice Sharad A. Bobde, Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati said the Ministry is “willing to hear the petitioner on the issue involved... She further states that they will convene a meeting for the purpose within two months”.

“Instead of objecting to his suggestion, why don’t you think about implementing it... Some of these airports, like Mangaluru, are very dangerous for flight passengers,” Chief Justice Bobde said.

In an earlier hearing the court had visualised aloud the horror and tragedy of an air crash while hearing a petition filed by advocate Rajen Mehta, through advocate Shohit Chaudhary, alleging “deliberate omission” on the part of the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to install the fail-safe system to stop an aircraft from overshooting runways at vulnerable airports.

“A crash is something horrible... People are trapped inside the flight. Even the site of a crash is horrible,” Chief Justice Bobde had said.

Mr. Mehta has said the EMAS could have averted the tragic Mangaluru crash of 2010 and the recent one in Kozhikode. Timely installation could have saved lives and crores of rupees in aircraft loss.

“The existence of EMAS was brought to the knowledge of Air Authority of India and the respondents [DGCA and Civil Aviation Ministry] in 2008. However, for no plausible reason, it has not been installed till date. During this time, the aviation industry has seen two horrific incidents in Mangaluru and Calicut causing loss of hundreds of lives, which could have been saved by the timely action of the respondents,” the petition said.

It said EMAS was installed in approximately 125 airports across the world.

Mr. Mehta has also sought an enquiry into the delay in installing EMAS despite specific knowledge about the vulnerability of the Mangaluru and Kozhikode airports. Mr. Mehta said criminal action should be initiated against the officials responsible for the delay.

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Printable version | May 12, 2021 12:03:07 PM |

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