Mumbai airport authorities have been asked to conduct weekly friction tests on the airport’s runway and to ensure that it is kept free of tyre deposits.
A fresh set of guidelines for safe flight movements on the Mumbai airport’s curtailed runway on every Tuesday was issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Saturday.
The regulator has also prohibited all landings if the tailwind (wind blowing towards the course of the craft) is more than 7 knots.
The notification was sent to airlines, air traffic control (ATC) and Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) after four near-mishaps and many marathon meetings. The safety measures listed are similar to what air safety experts had demanded.
Air safety experts had warned that shortened runway landings require ‘hard braking’ leaving thicker layers of tyre deposits on the runway as reported by Hindustan Times in the issue dated November 10.
While the blame game over wet runway violations last Tuesday continued, a senior DGCA official said, “Wet runway is a small aspect now since the season is over.”
He added that there are many other gaps to be plugged for safe flight movement on the shortened runway. DGCA Chief Nasim Zaidi was unavailable for comment.
The regulator has already stipulated that only senior pilots (those of the rank of trainers) can operate flights on the shortened runway and the co-pilot should have at least 300 flying hours.
Also, every pilot has to file a debriefing report after landing.
It has also ordered MIAL to maintain video footage of flight movement on the reduced runway and also the repair work for the next 19 Tuesdays.
Incidentally a DGCA safety audit in March found that the tyres used for friction testing in Mumbai were below par compared to the specifications laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
MIAL, however, denied the claim.
“There is no ICAO standard on tyres. Globally some airports used grooved tyres while
some use soft tyres. We also use soft tyres as per the DGCA instructions,” said the MIAL spokesperson.