Day 1 of dense fog this winter saw utter chaos at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) on Monday. More than 200 flights were affected by this haze.
All through the morning, the Runway Visual Range (RVR) at runway 28 was 600 metres and visibility at runway 29 remained below 100 metres. Due to this, the entire load had to be shifted to one runway.
Though airlines claim they have CAT III B-trained pilots, most of these pilots shy away from using runway 29 as it often has poor visibility. Most of them flock to the main runway (28), which has better visibility, leading to congestion and delays.
“Visibility at runway 29 tends to fall quickly as it is surrounded by open fields. Though CAT III B trained pilots can land in 50 metre visibility, they prefer to land at runway 28 where visibility is constant. Since technically only one runway was in use in the morning, almost every flight was delayed,” an airport source requesting anonymity said.
Nearly half-a-dozen flights were cancelled while almost 200 flights were delayed with the delay time stretching from 30 minutes to eight hours.
According to Met department officials, two of the three runways remained shut for 90 minutes — from 8 am to 9:30 am on Monday morning.
“Fog started engulfing the airport from 6pm on Sunday. At that time, the visibility dropped to 400m which further deteriorated to below 200m as fog become dense by 3am on Monday,” RK Jenamani, director of IGIA Met department, said. However visibility at runway 28 later improved, though the other two runways remained out of bounds— the second being runway 27 which is rarely used in low visibility.
“Surprisingly, the RVR of runway 28 has never fallen below 600m during the whole fog period. But for 90 minutes, it dropped to 50 metre at the end and middle of the runway, which may have created problems at this runway too,” Jenamani added. DIAL has claimed that they can manage operations from runway 29 in case of dense fog but the trend of sudden fall in visibility at this runway is likely to spoil this plan.
Visibility had again started falling Monday evening onwards and the Met department is expecting dense fog on Tuesday as well.