The primary runway at the Mumbai airport will finally be available for 24x7 operations from June 2, cutting down flight delays of the past few months.
The 3,448-metre runway was shut for operations for eight hours every day, except Sundays, from October 2010. The airport operator has completed the repair work on schedule. Now, passengers flying in and out of Mumbai will reap the benefits of the meticulous work put in by more than 900 workers who re-laid the surface of the runway.
With both runways in operation, the long queues of flights hovering above the airport awaiting landing permission and those awaiting permission for take off will automatically shorten. “Soon, there will be no more chaotic evenings,” said an air traffic control (ATC) official requesting anonymity, referring to the massive delays at the airport presently.
The runway has also become wider by 15 metres and can now accommodate the largest plane like the double-decker Airbus A380, and its surface has become flatter than ever before. “There was a minor metre-long bend at the centre of the runway and the surface was marginally uneven before we took up the project. Now, it is 100% straight and flat,” said Connie Muller, head of airfield operations, Mumbai International Airport Limited.
The Shraddhanand nullah that often flooded the western end of the runway during monsoons has been widened. The 240-metre-long buffer zone for flights overshooting the runway, also known as runway end safety area (RESA), sits on the nullah.
However, widening of the Mithi River that runs under the eastern end of the tarmac is incomplete. “We did not expect the terrain to be so rocky. That’s why we were unable to complete the work on schedule,” Muller said. Now, engineers are using dynamite explosions to break the surface. ATC is informed 30 minutes before the explosion, to alert pilots.