Sunday, November 15, 2009

Flights delayed

BIA currently uses the CAT-I ILS (it requires a minimum runway visual range of 550 metres) for landings. In heavy fog, however, the visibility at BIA drops much below 550 metres. On such days, a CAT-II ILS, or a CAT-III ILS, comes in handy.
Winter's here, and flight delays at Bengaluru International Aiport (BIA) will follow suit. All the airport needs to avoid the delays is an upgradation of its Instrument Landing System (ILS), say aviation experts.

"In December and January, Bangalore has fog for at least 35 to 40 days, and visibility at BIA drops drastically. This is when it is very difficult, or sometimes not possible, for flights to land using CAT-I ILS," an air traffic controller (ATC) said, on condition of anonymity.

"During such times, a CAT-II ILS is very much needed. Bangalore, however, does not require a CAT-III ILS as the fog does not last for a long time, like airports in northern India."

BIA is located at a higher altitude and is surrounded by water bodies and vegetation, which make it prone to fog cover during winter. On December 21, 2008, visibility at the airport dropped to 100 metres in the morning, between 4.30am to 5.30am. January 25, this year, was worse as visibility dropped to 50 metres, between 6am and 7.30am, making it impossible for flights to land.

"On many occasions during last year, BIA had to constantly rely on updates from the weathermen to reschedule flights," an IMD official said.