Taskforce To Check Runway Risks By December

NEW DELHI: Following the spate of scrapes - on the runway and mid-air - like planes overshooting airstrips and bird hits in the past few months, the aviation ministry has finally acted. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday instructed all international airports here to form "runway safety teams" by the year-end.

The team - with officials representing the airport developer, ATC, airlines and other stake holders - will meet regularly to identify loopholes that could lead to problems like communication gap between ATC and pilot and unauthorised presence of people or vehicles on runways.

Issuing a "civil aviation requirement" on Wednesday, the DGCA warned: "Runway incursions (globally) have sometimes led to serious accidents with significant loss of life. With the recent growth in air traffic in India and enhancement of capacity at all major airports across the country, it has become vital that runway safety programmes are put in place to prevent runway incursions that may lead to incidents/accidents."

The most recent case that forced the DGCA to crack the whip happened last week when a Jet Airways plane reportedly took too long to take off without informing the ATC and an Indian Airlines plane was cleared to land. The past few days witnessed a number of bird hits, including one involving the plane carrying the Indian and Australian cricket teams from Nagpur to Delhi.

Incursion has been defined as "any occurrence at an aerodrome involving the incorrect presence of an aircraft, vehicle or person on the protected area of a surface, designated for the landing and take-off of aircraft".

The commonest problems at airports are of dirty surroundings that attract birds; animals straying on runways; communication problem between ATC and aircraft due to poor transmission or difficulty in understanding each other's slang.