With work on the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport, which was expected to ease Mumbai air traffic congestion, moving at a snail’s pace, the focus is now on expansions plans at the Juhu aerodrome.
Diverting smaller planes to the Juhu airport will not only offer a breather to the space constraints at Mumbai airport, but also enable it to achieve high standards of runway efficiency.
The city airport is trying to achieve 48 flight movements (take-offs and landings) an hour by reducing the time taken by aircrafts to vacate the runway. Small aircrafts pose a major challenge in achieving this discipline, owing to reduced landing speed.
“Small planes such as turboprops disrupt air flow management, as their cruising speed is half that of jumbo jets. Shifting their operations to Juhu can improve the exiting airport’s runway efficiency dramatically,” said a senior air traffic control (ATC) official, requesting anonymity.
While turboprops are common, no-frill carrier Spicejet Airlines recently inducted a fleet of Q400 planes. National carrier Air India may also induct a fleet of small aircrafts manufactured by aircraft maker Bombardier.
Currently, the city airport has reduced its runway occupancy time from 60 seconds to 52 seconds. Its per-hour capacity to handle take-offs and landings went up from 30 until last year to 46. “Better runway occupancy will increase our capacity from 40 million passengers a year to 45 million,” Sanjay Reddy, managing director of the Mumbai airport, had told Hindustan Times at an aviation event last month.
The airport’s plan is based on a feasibility study conducted by NATS, a UK-based service provider, instrumental in turning around the efficiency of several airports in Europe. For instance, London’s Gatwick airport handled 60 take-offs and landings an hour with a single runway (Mumbai has two) after implementing a study by NATS.