Among five airports in the country having tabletop runways, Mizoram's Lengpui airport is safe for landing of passenger aircraft like Airbus A320 and mid size cargo planes, an official said on Saturday.
The official's assertion came in the backdrop of an Air India plane crashing at Kerala's Kozhikode airport, killing at least 18 people Friday.
J. Lalhmingliana, Principal Consultant in the Civil Aviation wing of the General Administration department, told PTI that the runway having 2,500 metres length and whose breadth is 45 metres, has enough space and is strong enough for safe landing. Lengpui airport, the lone one in Mizoram, is located about 32 km northwest of capital Aizawl. The construction of the airport began in 1995 and it was inaugurated on December 8,1998 by former deputy prime ministerL K Advani.
Four airports having tabletop runways at Kozhikode,Mangalore (Karnakata), Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) and Pakyong (Sikkim) are operated by the Airports Authority of India(AAI), while the Mizoram's Lengpui airport is with the state government.
Tabletop runways are constructed on hilly or elevated terrains. Also, there could be low lying areas adjacent to such runways and there could be gorges at the end of such runways.
Lalhmingliana said that the airport has almost all the required safety features like Instrument Landing System (ISL),runway lights and Doppler Very High Frequency Omni Range (DVOR), among others. He said that the two-decade-old airport is fit for landing of passenger aircraft like Airbus A320 carrying 190 to200 passengers and cargo planes and transport aircraft lik C-17 Globemaster, Il-76 and super hercules, among others.
"Unless there is human error, plane crash and other accidents are unlikely to happen," he said. He said that the airport had witnessed a minor incident 10 years ago, when a charter airline-North East Shuttle-carrying around 15 passengers fell off to not so a deep gorge due to wrong landing by an inexperienced pilot. However, there were no casualties, he added.
Lalhmingliana said that the runway of the airport is normal though it has been classified as tabletop.
According to the official, renovation and extension of the airport- its building and terminal- is in progress during Covid-19 period. He said two airlines- Air India and IndiGo are currently operating from the airport. While Air India operate on Kolkata-Aizawl-Imphal route on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, IndiGo operates on Kolkata-Guwahati-Aizawl sector on Monday, Friday and Saturday, he added.