New Delhi: In a bid to check fog-related diversions from IGI Airport, a DGCA panel has recommended several steps like upgrading of neighbouring alternative airports, meteorological facilities and runway radar coverage.
It has recommended that airports near Delhi like Jaipur, Lucknow and Amritsar, should be upgraded to Category-IIIB level of Instrument Landing System, which has a runway visibility range of 150 feet or almost near-zero visibility condition. CAT IIIB is operational at the IGI Airport.
A total of 289 flight diversions were caused due to fog in the last three winters from Delhi airport - 57 in 2011, 89 in 2012 and 143 in 2013. It is expected that after the recommendations of the DGCA panel are implemented by the stakeholders the chances of such diversions would come down drastically, officials said.
The committee, set up in January and headed by DGCA Joint Director General Lalit Gupta, also recommended that all airlines would have to annually provide details on how many of their aircraft were equipped to operate under CAT-IIIB situations and crew members trained to fly in such conditions, officials said.
The airlines, during the fog period, would have to indicate their take-off and landing minima, which includes details of the equipment and navigational aids they intend to use and alternate airports they plan to operate in case the fog situation worsens to less than CAT-IIIB visibility.
A detailed Standard Operating Procedure has been evolved to enable smooth de-boarding of passengers during a flight cancellation or delay. The committee suggested amending rules (Aeronautical Information Publication or AIP) to indicate that the term 'fuel emergency' would not be recognised at Indian aerodromes, an alibi often used by pilots to get an early landing slot.
The committee suggested that the Delhi air traffic control should provide proactive diversion management in coordination with the met department and other airports. It also recommended amendments to regulations applicable for authorisation of aircraft and pilots for CAT-II/III operations in line with major international regulations.
The panel, created to suggest measures to make Delhi a zero diversionary airport without compromising the safety of aircraft operations, has submitted its report to Civil Aviation Secretary Ashok Lavasa.
The report was prepared on the basis of discussions with top officials, including DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar, and all stakeholders who would be responsible for carrying out various activities within their ambit of responsibility.
While Lavasa asked stakeholders to ensure implementation of all recommended steps before October, Kumar has written to stakeholders like Delhi International Airport Limited, Airports Authority of India, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, India Meteorological Department and all Indian airlines to draw a definite time line for implementing various recommendations before onset of next winter season.
Besides recommending upgrade of all met equipment and facilities and navigational aids at Delhi airport, DIAL has also been asked to ensure that all foreign airlines deploy only CAT-IIIB compliant aircraft with qualified flight crew during the foggy season.