Indian carriers unable to use new fog landing system

NEW DELHI, DEC. 30. The Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr. Shahnawaz Hussain, today said it will be a year before Indian carriers were able to take advantage of the newly-installed Category III-A Instrument Landing System at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport, as they lacked trained pilots and equipped aircraft to land under fog conditions.

Till then flight cancellations and diversions will be the order of the day. Three international carriers - Dutch KLM Airlines, Air India and Cathay Pacific Cargo flights - were today diverted when visibility reduced to 300 meters at the IGI Airport. However, on the eve of the retirement of Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chairman, Mr. D.V. Gupta, the authority released to the media the praise showered on it by the German Lufthansa and Air France pilots for the perfect landing they made at IGI Airport with the help of the newly-installed Category III- A Landing System under low visibility conditions.

This was to show that not all airlines were facing problems due to fog. While Swiss Air, Lufthansa and Air France pilots were able to land under poor visibility conditions, the Dutch KLM, Air India and Cathay Pacific Cargo flights were diverted today.

``The international flights that were diverted possibly did not have the requisite rating from the authorised regulatory authority of their respective countries,'' the Airport Director, Mr. N.V. Sridhar told The Hindu.

After landing, Caption Le Chaton of Air France observed: ``Approach Cat III-A done perfectly. Good cooperation with (Air Traffic) Controllers. No technical problem met. Thank you for everything.''

On Saturday, Captain Sturmann of Lufthansa landed under heavy fog and observed in the log book: ``Touch down on Centre line and at correct touch down point. Category III-A is a good approach system.'' He, however, had a suggestion for the AAI and that was: ``Tower should turn off lights of not needed taxiways.''

Mr. Shahnawaz Hussain who attended the farewell function said no decision had yet been taken on a replacement for Mr. Gupta. He has written to the Minister of State for Personnel, Ms. Vasundhararaje Scindia, to constitute a search committee. However, there are several aspirants to the post, including the Joint Secretary incharge of AAI, Mr. Anurag Goyal, the AAI Member-Personnel, Mr. S.K. Narula and the Member-Planning, Mr. K. Ramalingam.

Till a search committee was constituted, the AAI will have an acting Chairman. Earlier, in a light vein, Mr. Hussain said he will have to attended some more farewell functions as the Secretary, Civil Aviation, Mr. A.H. Jung, and the DGCA, Mr. H.C. Khola, were due to retire shortly.

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