Rs 1,000 crore has been spent on equipping the Delhi airport with a new see-through-the-fog landing system and a new runway. But on Wednesday, with at least 20 flights delayed by up to one hour on the first day of the fog season, it seemed apparent that you will have to endure fog delays — as always.
The new 4.4-km long runway has the latest CAT IIIB ILS, the instrument that helps flights land in low visibility conditions, but it was no good when needed most.
For the ILS (Instrument Landing System) to work effectively, it needs the support of another instrument — surface movement radar. The ILS helps the plane land, and the radar helps it dock at its appointed bay. The radar for the new runway is not functional yet.
“The delays on Wednesday were not because of the fog but because all operations were being handled by just one runway,” said a senior air traffic control official on condition of anonymity.
The airport has three runways — numbers 27, 28 and 29. Runways 28 and 29 can handle flights in dense fog conditions, runway 27 can’t.
The entire load fell on runway 28 on Wednesday.
As the radar is not operational yet, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation has not certified Runway 29 for use in low visibility. The surface movement radar is the responsibility of the Airports Authority of India.
“We completed the tests of the radar today and it have been put in operation. It’s ready for use now and the DGCA certificate is just a matter of time,” said the AAI spokesman.
But it was supposed to be ready for use by November end. The spokesman said, “The equipment is imported and new, it had to be properly tested first.”
So hopefully, the runway will be operation next time fog hit the airport.
“Dense fog has hit the capital as predicted on December 10. The visibility conditions may not improve and dense fog might come back on Thursday,” said R.K. Jenamani, Director in-charge of the IGIA Met unit.