Delhiites may soon encounter fewer flight delays as the city airport authorities plan to connect two runways with a 2.4-kilometre elevated stretch that will shave 25 minutes off an aircraft’s taxiing time, saving fuel and improving traffic management.
The Indira Gandhi International Airport has two main runways: 10-28 preferred by fights operating from the domestic Terminal 1 and 11-29 chosen by flights out of the international Terminal 3, because of proximity.
A third runway, 9-27, 27 is used for VIP movements and when the other two are not available.
At present, the two main runways are connected with a western link on the outer Dwarka side of the airport and an aircraft has to cross one whole runway and the link to go to the other – taking about 30 minutes. With the new elevated stretch, that time will come down to five minutes.
“Construction of eastern cross taxiways – connecting runway 28 and runway 29 - will allow flexibility and assist in balancing the traffic on runways, particularly during busy hours,” said a spokesperson of the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL).
Sources said construction is slated to begin in December and end by next year. “The exact construction schedule will be finalised in the next few months.”
Experts said flights are often delayed because aircraft prefer to use the runway closer to the terminal they’re parked at. With the new taxiway, an aircraft at T-3 will have to travel two kilometers instead of seven to take-off from the 10-28 runway.
“The same is with planes arriving at Delhi airport. They will be able to vacate the runway soon after landing, allowing the next plane to use the runway. The new link will provide a circular path to the airport,” said an airport source.
The taxiway will be broad enough to accommodate wide-body aircrafts such as the A380, the largest plane in the world and will help in cutting down emissions.
“A training institute of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) was coming in the way and will be demolished. The taxiway will be at least 500 metres away from the existing Centaur hotel and Indian postal office,” said the airport source.
“The taxiway will be 5.5 metre above the ground and we will have a 2.5 metre wall for the security of the aircraft.”
Airport sources said the new taxiway will go above the airport approach road, allowing passengers a view of planes going towards the runway.
Currently, passengers can have a similar view from the tunnel road that connects Terminal 3 and Terminal 1. A portion of the road goes below the runway 28.
Officials said the new taxiway will help saving 5,000 litres of air-turbine fuel every hour, cutting down emissions by reducing the taxiway time.
The link is expected to help DIAL manage the booming traffic at IGI. From 850 flight movements everyday in 2010, Delhi airport now handles almost 1,100 aircraft per day. The three runways can handle 75 aircraft per hour but because of lack of taxiway, the air traffic controller is able to handle only 65 aircraft every hour.
“The project aims to improve the overall efficiency of operations at an airport, with a particular focus on the aircraft turn-round and pre-departure sequencing process. With this, the management of air traffic will become highly efficient,” said an official of the AAI.