Constructed on elevated terrains and largely having little house for final minute manoeuvre, tabletop runways at airports at instances pose challenges for pilots whereas touchdown their plane. And Air India Categorical planes have crashed a minimum of twice on such runways in little over a decade.
Not less than 5 airports, together with at Kozhikode in Kerala the place an Air India Categorical plane crashed on Friday, have tabletop runways.
Tabletop runways are constructed on hilly or elevated terrains and there could possibly be additionally low-lying areas adjoining to such runways or gorges in the direction of the top.
Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chairman Arvind Singh mentioned tabletop runways are there at 4 airports operated by it. They’re at Kozhikode, Mangalore (Karnakata), Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) and Pakyong (Sikkim).
The Lengpui airport in Mizoram, which is with the state authorities, additionally has a tabletop runway.
State-owned AAI operates 137 aerodromes, together with those by means of joint ventures.
A senior Air India pilot mentioned that automation may not assist in the case of tabletop runways. There may be additionally the difficulty of optical phantasm, the place the runway would possibly appear to be nearer whereas it might really be additional away, he added.
The pilot additionally confused that there’s not a lot buffer zone not like regular runways.
There are tabletop runways in several components of the world and solely when the runway size is much less, there could possibly be points with touchdown of plane. Within the case of Kozhikode airport, the runway is about 9,000 toes which is sort of lengthy, in accordance with a senior regulatory official.
Tabletop runways are there at some airports, each in north and south India, he added.
In keeping with the official, pilots are typically instructed about such runways and numerous restrictions.
Within the Courtroom of Inquiry report concerning the airplane crash at Mangalore airport in Might 2010, it was talked about that there have been three tabletop airports within the nation from the place scheduled flights function at Mangalore, Kozhikode and Lengpui.
“Due to the undulating terrain and constraints of house, these airfields require further ability and warning whereas finishing up flight operations. The hazard of undershooting and overshooting, specifically, can result in grave conditions, as was the case on this accident,” the report had mentioned.
It had additionally mentioned that tabletop runways have an issue of entry roads across the airfield, which can should be utilized in case of plane accidents.
Citing ICAO knowledge, the report had additionally mentioned that many of the accidents happen throughout touchdown and take-off phases, with a lot of runway excursions and plane overrunning into the overshoot space.
“Contemplating the massive momentum of those plane, a downward slope within the overrun space can worsen the result. It’s subsequently really useful that such downward slopes as acquiring in Mangalore be dropped at the identical stage of the runway floor. This additionally must be ensured in any respect tabletop airports within the nation,” the report had mentioned.
Concerning the Air India Categorical airplane that crashed on Friday, AAI mentioned it had touched down round 1,000 metres from the start of the runway on the Kozhikode airport earlier than breaking apart into two items. The Boeing 737-800 plane whereas touchdown overshot the runway and went down 35 toes right into a slope. The pilot of the flight — IX-1344 — couldn’t sight the runway within the first touchdown try on account of heavy rains.
An AAI spokesperson mentioned that runway 28 was in use and within the first touchdown try the pilot couldn’t sight the runway and requested for runway 10.
The pilot then steered the airplane to runway 10 and got here from the opposite facet, in accordance with an AAI official.
Citing data from the Air Site visitors Controller (ATC), the spokesperson mentioned the plane touched down close to taxiway ‘C’, which is roughly 1,000 metres from the start of runway 10. The whole size of the runway is 2,700 metres. The spokesperson additionally mentioned that it was raining over the airfield and reported visibility on the time of touchdown was 2,000 metres.