The decision to dedicate the two runways at Indira Gandhi International Airport separately for landing and take-offs would eliminate the chances of the kind of near collisions witnessed this week. However, this safety measure has raised a new safety concern about chances of planes now straying into restricted airspace over the VIP zone.
From December 25, the airport’s primary runway (28/10) would be exclusively used for take-offs and the secondary runway (27/09) only for landing. “However, the approach path of Runway 27 falls over areas like Safdarjang and Nizamuddin. If the pilot flying in high speed deviates even slightly towards right, he will get into the no flying zone over the Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Prime Minister’s residence,” said a senior air traffic control officer (ATCO).
“Also, the secondary runway has only CAT I Instrument Landing System so aircraft would have to use the primary runway for landing during dense fog,” he said. At present, most planes land on the primary runway and the secondary runway mostly handles domestic departures.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation had issued a directive on Tuesday to dedicate separate runways for landing and take-off after a JetLite and a MDLR Airlines aircraft came on a collision course on Monday after taking off from the runways at almost the same time towards Dwarka. The two runways are not parallel and their flight paths merge at a distance of 1.5 km.
“Planes have to travel in a straight line and are locked with radio signals while approaching the runway for landing. Even if there is slight deviation, they can correct it,” said Director General Kanu Gohain.
The IGI Airport witnessed air traffic congestion once again on Friday even though simultaneous use of both runways had started on 10.45 am. Most domestic flights were delayed by half-an-hour to three hours due to air traffic congestion. Flights were disrupted on Thursday because only one runway was used almost throughout the day due to poor visibility and also to avoid incidents of near miss due to simultaneous take-off.