Strong, erratic winds delay flights by up to an hour at Mumbai airport
Erratic winds affected flights at Mumbai airport for several hours on Tuesday, even as thousands of fliers struggled to reach the airport on time and faced long queues upon getting there.mumbai Updated: Jun 23, 2015 22:22 IST
Erratic winds affected flights at Mumbai airport for several hours on Tuesday, even as thousands of fliers struggled to reach the airport on time and faced long queues upon getting there.
Domestic carriers used social media to warn fliers. Around 1 pm, Jet Airways tweeted that all its arrivals to Mumbai were delayed by up to an hour.
Although runway visibility was close to 800 metres, more than required on a rainy day, strong, unpredictable winds forced seven Mumbai-bound flights to abort their landings at the last minute. The flights landed on their subsequent attempts but delayed other arrivals by up to an hour.
“These flights began their descent prepared for a particular wind speed and direction, but minutes before touchdown, the wind pattern changed. As a result they could not land,” said a senior air traffic control (ATC) official, who did not wish to be named.
Officials added that five inbound flights had to be diverted to Ahmedabad and Baroda as they were running low on fuel. “We are trying very hard to avoid diversions as they are expensive for airlines and cause inconvenience to fliers,” said Jayant Dasgupta, general manager, Mumbai ATC.
These disruptions led to a massive congestion at the airport, with a dozen flights lined up to take off and a similar number circling while awaiting permission to land at one point.
“Almost all flights were behind schedule. The average delay rose from 30 minutes in the first half of the day to 45 minutes in the second half,” said a Mumbai International Airport Limited spokesperson.
Airport weather bureau officials said the weather phenomenon that affected flights is known as wind shear – a common monsoon occurrence in which wind speed and direction changes frequently over a small area.
“Wind shear affects the two most crucial flight stages – take-offs and landings. This weather system has caused many air accidents all over the world,” said an official from the airport’s weather bureau, who did not wish to be named.