India might be on cloud nine, considering the boom in aviation, but here's a reality check. A research presentation by veteran instructor pilot Captain A Ranganathan states that our runways are still too slippery for a safe landing. Which means the runway mishap in Brazil could happen here too.
Ranganathan, 57, is a member of the task force set up by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on the Approach and Landing and Accident Reduction Procedure. He told
that nine flights skidded off wet runways during his two-month study. The study was presented at a seminar in Chennai last week.
The study claims that all our airports consider a benchmark of 3 millimetres of water clogging in the runway while preparing for the monsoon.
But current rain patterns show the water clogging is much higher. "It is a benchmark set donkey's years ago. It needs to be updated," said Ranganathan.
The study further states that equipment used to test friction on wet runways isn't good enough. "The equipment weighs 200 kg and is run on a wet runway at 60-80 km per hour. An aircraft weighs over 1,000 tonnes and lands at a minimum speed of 200 kmph. These tests are not conclusive," said Ranganathan. He also points out that landing distance on a wet runway increases by 30 per cent as compared to a dry runway, something safety agencies fail to consider.
Interestingly, the report also states that most commercial pilots in the country are not versed with flying in the monsoon since 40 per cent of them are expats. "Expat pilots are not versed with our monsoon. Our monsoon is very peculiar."