New runway shuts down, second time in 4 days | delhi | Hindustan Times
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New runway shuts down, second time in 4 days

IGI Airport’s new runway is expected to deliver passengers from congestion. However, just 4 days after opening for commercial operations, the runway has been plagued with teething troubles, reports Sidhartha Roy.

delhi Updated: Sep 30, 2008 00:28 IST
Sidhartha Roy

Indira Gandhi International Airport’s new runway was expected to deliver passengers from air traffic congestion. However, just four days after opening for commercial operations, the runway has been plagued with teething troubles.

Almost all landings and take-offs on Monday were operated from the existing two runways of the airport as the new runway was closed for most part of the day. According to sources, the instrument landing system (ILS) of the runway that allows pilots to land in low visibility developed a snag and was being repaired.

“The new runway was used only for a brief period in the day. It is still not dependable for regular operations and will take much more time to stabilise,” said a senior air traffic control official on condition of anonymity.

The runway was opened on September 25, more than a month after its inauguration. The runway was closed on that very day when its lights went out due to a power fluctuation. What is more worrying, the backup power system too didn’t start in time.

Airport operator Delhi International Airport (P) Ltd. had promised the new runway, along with the existing ones, would allow 65 flight movements per hour. However, with the new runway suffering snags daily, it would take more time before passengers can enjoy congestion free landing at the airport.

The runway also doesn’t have surface movement radars, which are needed for operations in the morning when visibility is low. With winters approaching, visibility at the airport has been dipping in the mornings.

“Runway 29 was not offered for service today due to some reconfiguration of the ILS systems” — a DIAL statement said. The ILS is currently set for Category III, which allows landings even when visibility is as low as 100metres. However, visibility in the mornings is still not as bad to require this setting.

‘With Category III settings, more equipment is required to operate which at this time of year is an unnecessary waste of energy’, the statement justifies.

DIAL said the new runway would be opened in phases and till October 2, it will only be used between 6 am and 1 pm daily. “The phased opening of the runway would ensure that any observations from ATC or Pilots can be dealt with for further improvement and any minor works can be carried out,” a DIAL spokesman said.