Bombay HC asks civil aviation ministry to ensure passengers’ safety
The Bombay high court (HC) on Wednesday directed the Union civil aviation ministry to disclose steps it will take to ensure passenger safety and convenience, after the city airport’s main runway had to be shut for 72 hours to clear a SpiceJet aircraft that had overshot it on July 1.
The court noted that it had taken around three days to remove the SpiceJet aircraft as the only Disabled Aircraft Retrieval Kit (DARK) required for the operation was in Mangaluru to clear an Air India Express plane, which had also overshot the runway.
“It does not augur well for the nation that the main runway at its financial capital remains closed for 72 hours,” noted a division bench of justice Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and justice Gautam Patel, directing the ministry of civil aviation and the Airports Authority of India to file an affidavit on the measures required to ensure such incidents are not repeated.
The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by activist lawyer, Yeshwant Shenoy, raising safety concerns over the international airport.
He pointed out that the airport operator, Mumbai International Airport Limited, admitted that there are 437 obstacles — high-rise buildings around the airport — that pose a major threats to take-off and landing of flights.
Referring to the July 1 incident, Shenoy said that all over the world, it had been observed that around 80% of air crashes take place in the first three or last eight minutes of a flight journey.
He further said the SpiceJet incident had led to the closure of the main runway for three days. Though the secondary runway was opened, a similar incident had occurred there too, crippling services at the Mumbai airport, he told the HC.
The judges agreed with him and said the recent incidents warrant immediate measures to ensure passenger safety.