Third runway at New Delhi opens for low-visibility operations

An Express News Service report that the third runway at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, installed with Category III-B Instrument Landing System (ILS), was finally commissioned on Friday for low-visibility air traffic operations during dense fog days, brings much cheer to harried passengers.

“The certification was given following an inspection by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) after taking into consideration elements involved in facilitating aircraft operations under 50-metre (near zero) visibility conditions (Category III-B Operations),” an official from the Delhi International Airport (DIAL), the airport operator said.

Airport Authority of India (AAI) has installed and commissioned the secondary Surface Movement Radar (SMR) at the third runway with a separate Air Traffic Control (ATC) display at the control tower, which forms part of the existing Automation Surface Movement Guidance and Control System (ASMGCS).

“This display will facilitate air traffic controllers to identify the radar data from detected targets on the runway as well as the related taxiway before entering the international or domestic apron even under near-zero visibility conditions,” an official said.

The low-visibility procedures (LVP) have also been worked out and are in place for the third runway. The Met department has installed and commissioned the required Runway Visual Range (RVR) measurement equipment, which will give instantaneous runway visibility reading at the control tower. This helps in effecting low-visibility procedures in case runway visibility falls to near-zero.

The Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) has installed and commissioned Category III-B runway and taxiway lighting system for permitting low-visibility operations. Together with the second runway, which is fit for Category III-B operations, the third runway is now ready to be utilised for low-visibility operations, and to share the air traffic load during adverse visibility conditions and avoid air traffic diversions.

“Utilisation of these two runways for Category IIIB operations will also depend on pilots who are trained and rated for carrying out low-visibility landings and takeoffs,” said an official.

The DGCA has directed all airlines to ensure that CAT III compliant aircraft and pilots are on their rolls for operating at the Delhi Airport. “This will be strictly monitored by the DGCA on a day-to-day basis,” an official said.

Currently, the National Aviation Company of India Ltd (NACIL) has the maximum number of CAT II and III trained pilots; Air India has a fleet of 95 pilots and 69 co-pilots with CAT III training, while Indian has 148 pilots and 94 co-pilots trained.

Among the private players, Jet Airways has 102 pilots and 58 co-pilots similarly trained; Kingfisher has 93 pilots and 53 co-pilots; whereas Indigo has 33 pilots and 24 co-pilots trained in CAT III operations.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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