The much-touted new runway of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, scheduled to be commissioned by June 30, is still incomplete. Work is still on and trial runs are now expected to start from August 15, sources said. The airport’s third runway is expected to reduce congestion and make flight delays a thing of past.
“Though civil work on the new runway is complete, there is lot more important work that remains to be done,” said a senior airport official on condition of anonymity. “Completing the runway strip usually does not take much time, it is the lighting systems, instrument landing system and other communication and navigational equipment that are more crucial and also take more time to be installed,” he said.
The new runway would be 4.4 km long and would be equipped with CAT III-B Instrument Landing System, making it possible for aircraft to land even in visibility of 50 metres. The new runway (29/ 11) would the load off the present primary runway (28/ 10) at the airport and would run parallel to it.
Shifting deadlines: “The lighting system, along with ILS and communication systems are yet not completely stalled. They have to be calibrated and standard procedures have to laid out,” he said. Airport operator Delhi International Airport (Private) Limited (DIAL) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) are jointly installing the systems.
While DIAL had earlier promised that the runway would be ready by March 2008, it later said it would be commissioned by June 30. Now, DIAL says that as per the Operations, Maintenance and Development Agreement (OMDA) signed with AAI, the runway deadline is February 2009. “Work on the runway is going as per schedule and would be completed before target date in 2009,” a DIAL spokesman said. “A decision has not yet been taken if the trial runs would start from August 2008,” he said.
Roadblocks: Work started in December 2006 but it hit the first roadblock immediately. The runway had to be ‘extended’ as it was found that the Shiv Murti near NH-8 would come in the funnel area of aircraft approaching to runway for landing.
The next problem was the sewage from nearby areas being discharged on land meant for the runway. Construction of the runway was started from the other end to save time but the damage was already done.
“As it is, a CAT III-B ILS equipped modern runway takes more than a year to build and we lost invaluable time due to the sewage problem. It had made the soil moist while we require a firm base to build the runway strip,” a source said.
Prices up, congestion down: Though the new runway is taking time to come up, the air traffic controllers (ATC) at the airport are not too worried.
“Daily flight movements at IGIA have already come down from 700 to about 625 as number of flights have gone down. With ticket prices rising due to fuel getting expensive, airlines are cutting down on flights,” said a senior ATC.
The new Performance Based Navigation System, that would bring down distanced between airborne planes, is going to start from August 1 and is also expected to reduce congestion.