On Saturday, flight operations were disrupted for the fourth consecutive day at the Delhi Airport due to dense fog. A technical problem at the new runway and Republic Day rehearsals only added to the chaos.
And the situation is not likely to improve. On Saturday, the met department forecast rain and a further deterioration in the weather in the next few days.
Meanwhile, about 150 flights were delayed by up to four hours after dense fog reduced visibility to zero at the IGI Airport on Saturday. Three flights were diverted, three cancelled and 15 rescheduled. Fog set in at the airport after 10 pm on Friday and visibility improved only by 11.10 am on Saturday.
The new runway 29/11 couldn’t be used from 6 to 10.30 am, the morning peak hour, which led to further chaos and congestion. Meanwhile, the Runway Visual Range (RVR) measuring machine, maintained by the met department, became unoperational after moisture entered it.
“We have been witnessing very dense fog continuously for the last few days. As a result of which, moisture entered the machine and it couldn’t work,” said R.K. Jenamani, Director-in-charge of the IGIA met unit. A mirror in the machine, which reflects light to measure visibility, got completely fogged.
“We had to use blowers to dry the machine and clean it, during which visibility was being measured manually,” he said.
“Bad visibility continued till late in the morning and the availability of only one runway led to congestion and delays,” said an airline official.
What made matters worse was the closure of Delhi’s airspace between 11.15 am to 12.15 pm for Republic Day fly past rehearsals, during which no flight operation took place.
The runway visibility dipped to only 75 metres around 3.30 am and again around 7.30 am this morning. Though aircraft could land using the CAT-III B instrument landing system (ILS), flights could not take off as the runway visibility was less than 150 metres—the required minima for low visibility take-off (LVTO) for an aircraft fixed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation.
Due to the new rule, airlines like Air India, whose pilots can fly even at 125 metre of visibility, had to wait for visibility to improve.
Jenamani said that fog would remain for the next few days as there was no wind movement. “Visibility was very poor on Saturday and similar conditions are expected on Sunday,” he said.
Delhi is likely to witness dense fog during the R-Day celebrations. The minimum temperature rose to 7.7 degree Celsius on Saturday from Friday’s 7.4 degree Celsius. The maximum was 18.7 degree C yesterday.