Despite criticism following a series of near mishaps at the Mumbai airport, the directorate general of civil aviation (DGCA) will continue with the curtailed runway operations on Tuesdays.
The regulator, however, will issue a new set of notifications for flight movement during the six-hour partial closure of the runway on Tuesdays. Details of the new notification are not yet known. The decision was taken on Friday after a marathon meeting with the airlines, air traffic controllers (ATC) and the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) in Delhi.
“We will continue with shortened runway operations. DGCA will issue new notifications for the same,” said a MIAL spokesperson.
The DGCA has already issued a four-point directive for shortened runway operations a day after a Kingfisher flight carrying 46 passengers skidded off the runway. According to the directive, only commanders (senior pilots in the ranks of trainers) can operate such flights and the co-pilot should have 300 hours of flying experience in the permitted kind of aircraft.
Further the pilot has to file a de-briefing report after every landing. DGCA has also prohibited landings when the runway
surface is wet.
While ATC, airlines and the DGCA continued blaming each other in the Kingfisher skid incident on Tuesday, the regulator has asked air traffic controllers to be extra alert with pilots. “They have asked us to advice the pilot if the plane is at a wrong altitude for a safe touchdown,” said a senior ATC official requesting anonymity. DGCA has also reinstated one of the ATC officials temporarily taken off duty after the Kingfisher case.
The ATC, MIAL and a strong lobby in DGCA were pushing for a complete runway closure on Tuesday to rule out safety risks. But civil aviation ministry sources said that is was a ‘tough call’ as airlines facing a financial crunch opposed it.