A week after deciding to send slow-moving flights to the back of the departure queue at the city airport, the air traffic control (ATC) has now set new time limits for the aircraft to vacate the runway.
Pilots landing in Mumbai now have to vacate the runway within 49 seconds of touchdown, while those taking off cannot occupy the airstrip for more than 40 seconds.
The move is one of several initiatives to reduce flight delays, and increase flight-handling capacity at the airport.
“We will require lots of trials to achieve time discipline,” said a senior ATC official, who did not wish to be named. This is the first time the airport has introduced a documented time limit for pilots to vacate the runway.
Special taxiway indicator lights have been installed on two quick-exit taxiways, so that pilots get used to the new timeline.
“We want arriving flights to exit via rapid-exit taxiways N7 and N8 as a habit,” said another ATC official. Currently, many flights taxi till the end of the runway and end up blocking the tarmac for longer.
This initiative was taken based on the findings of a report that a UK-based service provider, NATS, had submitted to the civil aviation ministry, to increase the airport’s flight-handling capacity. The airport wants to increase flight movements (take-offs and landings) from 30 to 48 per hour, by next June.
According to the report, the airport will need to construct two more rapid exit taxiways on both the runways, to increase pilots’ options to vacate the runway quickly.
Since September 22, the ATC has also been keeping a close watch on planes taxiing at a speed less than 15 knots. The ATC will punish slow taxiing flights by denying them take-off permission and sending them to the end of the departure queue.
After the ATC is satisfied with the traffic discipline on ground, it will begin the process of reducing the distance between two airborne planes, from five nautical miles to three nautical miles, it is learned.
The Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) has also set up two committees, one at the ministry level and the other at the airport level, to monitor the timely implementation of the project.