Why did it take 2 hrs to spot glass pieces? | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Why did it take 2 hrs to spot glass pieces?

In addition to routine interrogation of Blue Dart pilots who operated a cargo flight that damaged 20 runway lights at Mumbai airport on Wednesday and did not report the incident, the aviation regulator began an investigation into why the airport operator took more than two hours to spot the glass shards on the runway.

mumbai Updated: Jun 11, 2010 02:14 IST
Soubhik Mitra

In addition to routine interrogation of Blue Dart pilots who operated a cargo flight that damaged 20 runway lights at Mumbai airport on Wednesday and did not report the incident, the aviation regulator began an investigation into why the airport operator took more than two hours to spot the glass shards on the runway.

The cargo flight left for Bangalore at 5.30 am but the airport staff spotted the scattered glass shards only around 8 am.

"According to a standard operating procedure (SOP) the airfield staff should keep a tab on runway surface after every three operations (take offs and landings)," said a senior official with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

For more than two hours on Wednesday flights took off and landed amidst glass shards scattered across the runway. It could lead to tyre burst or any other mishap. Also, flights landing on the runway early in the morning depend on runway edge lights because the visibility is usually low.

The SOP is crucial because sometimes aircraft parts fall off on the tarmac while taking off. Last year, a bird chaser averted a mishap after he spotted a wheel of a Delhi-bound Spicejet flight that had come off during take off from the city airport. As a result the ATC alerted the pilot before the flight landed in Delhi.

"We conduct four full runway inspections daily as per the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). But the timings are not planned because we do it during the lean period," said a MIAL spokesperson.

The airport operator has submitted a report of the incident to the DGCA but it yet to take any action against their staff. Soon after the incident the DGCA had suspended the pilots pending an inquiry. According to preliminary investigations an aircraft maintenance engineer with the cargo carrier spotted parts of runway lights stuck to the aircraft's fuselage.