Goa blind landings: DGCA cracks the whip

Last Updated: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 - 23:00

New Delhi: The DGCA cracked the whip on
four airlines for violating its directive not to operate
flights to Goa during certain hours when ground navigational
aids at the airport are not operational forcing pilots to make
blind landings.



The action by the aviation regulator came even as the
Indian Commercial Pilot`s Association(ICPA) gave a directive
asking all its members not to undertake flights to Goa till
April 30 in the wake of violation of flight safety rules by
soem air carriers and blind landings at Dambolim airport. ICPA
is a body of erstwhile Indian Airlines pilots.



The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had
issued a NOTAM (notice to airmen) about a week ago advising
all airlines not to operate flights during certain hours in a
day when the ground-based radar system PAPI (precision
approach path indicator) was switched off due to repairs.



"Despite our warnings to respect the curfew hours,
some airlines have violated this directive. They will have to
pay for it. We will take action", DGCA chief E K Bharat
Bhushan said.
Official sources later said the DGCA is in the process
of sending notices to Kingfisher, GoAir, JetLite and Jet
Airways for having operated flights during these periods --
from 0900 hours to 1300 hours and 1500 hours till 1900 hours.



Bhushan said the NOTAM had warned all airlines not to
operate flights of jet aircraft during this period due to
shutting down of the crucial navigational aids.



He said he had a meeting with the chiefs of operations
of all airlines "and told them that these curfew hours should
be respected entirely. I had also warned them that in case of
any violation, we will come down heavily on the operators as
well as the flying crew".



The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA), one
of the two Air India pilots` unions, has also asked its
members not to operate flights to Goa during those periods
when they would have to carry out "blind landings" or landings
without navigational aids.



The unavailability of PAPI, which indicates the
landing path, makes the pilot undertake landings visually. The
radar system also indicates features like the distance and
height before touchdown.
Asked about the ICPA directive to its members, Bhushan
said, "I think if any association of pilots have said they are
going to go by the curfew, it suits us. This is what we expect
them to do".



In the directive, the ICPA has asked the pilots not to
undertake flights to Goa till the Precision Approach Path
Instrument (PAPI) -- runway lights and the Glide Path (GP) on
both runways were not available.



"As per NOTAM issued regarding PAPI and GP not
available at both runways for aircraft landing between 9am and
1pm and 3pm and 7pm from April 4 to April 30 at GOA airport.
The CEC of ICPA has decided to issue the following directive,
keeping air safety in concern.



"All Pilots are hereby directed `not to undertake
flights` repeat `not to undertake flights` to VAGO (GOA) till
the landing aids such as PAPI and GP are fully available and
functional," ICPA General Secretary Rishabh Kapur said in a
statement.



The PAPI and the GP on both runways of Goa`s Dambolim
airport, the only airport in the state which operates as a
civil enclave in a military airbase named INS Hansa, are not
available between 9 am and 1 pm and 3 pm and 7 pm to airlines
due to annual maintenance work being carried out by Indian
Navy.



A Notice of Airmen (NOTAM) was issued by Navy
regarding closure of that these facilities would not be
available from April 4 to April 30 but despite this some
airlines made blind landing without navigational aid at the
airport risking lives to passengers.



The PAPI is a visual aid that provides guidance
information to help a pilot acquire and maintain the correct
approach (in the vertical plane) to an aerodrome or an
airport.



It is a light array generally located beside the
runway approximately 300 meters beyond the landing threshold
of the runway.



It normally consists of four equi-spaced light units
colour coded to provide a visual indication of an aircraft`s
position relative to the designated glideslope for the runway.



PTI



First Published: Tuesday, April 12, 2011 - 23:00

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