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Mumbai rains: 203 flights cancelled, main runway shut

Last updated on: July 02, 2019 22:43 IST

IMAGE: A SpiceJet flight from Jaipur skid and overshot the main runway while landing at the Mumbai airport amid heavy rains on Monday. Photograph: Sahil Salvi

Flight services at the Mumbai airport were severely affected on Tuesday with airlines cancelling 203 services due to incessant rains and suspension of operations from the main runway due to the skidding of an aircraft Monday night, airport officials said.

 

Besides, another 350-odd flights -- both arriving and departing -- were delayed between 28-51 minutes (till 7 pm), as per the live flight tracking website Flightradar24.

"A total of 203 flights were cancelled at the Mumbai airport due to inclement weather and non-availability of the main runway for operations," an airport official said.

Mumbai airport authorities had earlier in the day said 52 flights were cancelled and another 55 diverted to the nearby airports till 10 am Tuesday due to 'inclement weather' and partial closure of operations.

A Mumbai-bound SpiceJet flight from Jaipur carrying 167 passengers and crew overshot the runway here after landing amid heavy rains, which have severely hit normal life in the city over the last two days.

The aircraft is stuck partially on the runway and the nearby grass area and is expected to be removed in the next 48 hours.

A team of engineers and technicians from Air India (AI) has started work to remove the stranded plane with the Disabled Aircraft Recovery Kit (DARK), a spokesperson of the state-run airline said.

The kit, used to remove stuck aircraft, is only available with the national carrier.

'Currently, secondary runway is in use. Our team is trying their best to bring the main runway back into operation and this may take up to 48 hours,' Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) said in a tweet.

The Mumbai airport has two runways. While the main runway can handle 48 plane movements every hour, the second one can handle only up to 35 aircraft
movements an hour, according to MIAL.

The city's airport is the second busiest in the country, handling around 1,000 arrivals and departures per day. The airport in Delhi is the busiest as it handles around
1,300 movements per day.

"A 150-metre long ramp is being prepared to push the aircraft out of the grassy area. Air India's Disabled Aircraft Removal Kit has been mobilised," said an official of MIAL, the airport operator.

Amid cancellation of services, domestic airlines such as AI and private carriers like IndiGo, Vistara and GoAir announced waiving of rescheduling/cancellation charges for the flights booked to and from Mumbai for July 3.

In the last four days, there have as many incidents of planes overshooting the runway on landing, three of them of SpiceJet alone, in the country.

On June 30, an Air India Express Boeing plane with 183 passengers on board arriving from Dubai veered off the taxiway and onto the grass at the Mangalore International Airport before coming to a halt on a patch of mud and grass.

The same day, a SpiceJet plane from Bhopal skidded off the runway at the Surat airport amid heavy rainfall and strong winds.

Then Tuesday, a day after a SpiceJet aircraft overshot the runway at the Mumbai airport, its another plane veered off the runway central line during the landing at the Kolkata airport. But its pilots later managed to align the jet with the central line, averting a mishap.

However, it left four runway edge lights damaged.

'On July 2, SpiceJet Boeing 737-800 aircraft operated flight SG-275 from Pune to Kolkata. The aircraft landed on runway 19L. During landing roll aircraft veered off towards the right from the runway center line owing to wet runway/ heavy rain,' SpiceJet said in a statement.

Pilots took corrective action immediately to get the aircraft on centre line, it said, adding four runway edge lights were inadvertently damaged.

'Passengers deplaned normally. All passengers and crew were safe,' the statement said.

All these incidents are being probed by the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation.

In the wake of these incidents, airlines were on Tuesday asked by the DGCA to carry out risk assessment before operating in such situations.

In a communique, the DGCA asked the airlines to make available sufficiently experienced crew in the cockpit and that crew rostering should factor in fatigue element associated with the operations during adverse weather conditions.

The DGCA said, "Aircraft operations during monsoon season poses challenges, which of late have resulted in a number of occurrences."

"Crew should be well aware of the aircraft limitations and of take-off/landing performance calculations during the adverse weather operations," it stated.

It further said that while adhering to the minimum cockpit experience, which has already been laid down by the DGCA, the airlines should carry out their own 'risk assessment' before operating flights during adverse weather conditions.

While approaching to land at any airport during such conditions, a plane's cockpit crew should be encouraged to go-around in case the 'approach becomes unstabilised' or if there is any condition that has reduced the "visual references" to enable a safe landing, the circular said.

A senior official at the DGCA told PTI that it is probing the incidents of planes overshooting runways.

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