If your flight does not take off or land in Delhi’s shallow fog, blame it on the unwillingness of the captain of the aircraft and the airline. Though the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) has facilities to allow aircrafts to fly even when the visibility is down to 50m, hardly any flight has operated in CAT IIIB conditions during last week’s dense fog.
Sources at the IGIA said even though CAT IIIB-trained pilots can operate if visibility falls below 200 metres, they hesitate to take off or land till the sky clears. This resulted in delays and sometimes cancellation and diversion of flights.
“Pilots feel comfortable till the time Runway Visibility Range (RVR) is above 200m. The problem starts when the RVR dips below 200m,” a source at the airport said. CAT IIIB equipment installed at the airport allows a plane to operate till a visibility of 50m.
Meanwhile, dense fog, which had affected flight operations at the IGIA December 19 onwards, is likely to get worse in the coming week. This spells more inconvenience for the already harried passengers.
“With pilots refusing to operate in dense fog, passengers suffer. On December 23, when fog affected flight movements severely, no flight operated in CAT IIIB conditions for over three hours,” the source added.
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had issued guidelines that airlines should allow CAT IIIB-trained pilots to operate when the weather is bad. “We have the facility to operate in low visibility, but at the time of landing the decision has to be taken by pilot in command. If he thinks the conditions are not suitable, he cannot put the life of passengers in danger,” said a manager of a private airline.
In one week, the Delhi airport has witnessed over 10 hours of fog and surprisingly no flight has operated during that period. At least 300 flights and 3,000 passengers have suffered directly.
The Met department has predicted 110 hours of dense fog this season.
Runways 28, 29 and 11 at IGI Airport are certified for CAT IIIB operations
CAT IIIB can permit equipped aircraft and trained pilots to land up to a visibility of 50m
Operations are suspended when visibility falls below 50m