The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Airport huddle for safe travel
- Close shaves after lack of coordination

Keeping airport runway areas and perimeter area of airport free from winged scavengers, that could cause a bird-hit

More transparency in the call signs between pilots and the air traffic control

Polite behaviour by CISF jawans with passengers and assistance to them whenever necessary

Keeping radars, navigation and landing systems fully functional

Proper facilities and schedules to help airlines fly in and out on time

There's a cloud over passenger safety at Calcutta airport.

This follows a series of recent close shaves, caused by lack of communication between technical staff and aircraft crew. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has convened an urgent meeting at Dum Dum airport on Tuesday to put the matter under the scanner.

'As passenger and aircraft safety is the first priority in a service industry like ours, we have to be very careful. There are some misunderstandings and safety issues that need to be addressed. That is exactly what we will do now,' R.S. Lahauria, deputy general manager (air traffic control), aviation safety, eastern region, told Metro on Monday.

The decision to call for an aviation safety meeting on Tuesday, followed by a seminar, was taken by the aviation safety wing of AAI after a few recent instances highlighted the lack of 'coordination' between various units involved in aviation safety:

oA couple of weeks ago, a Bangkok-bound Indian Airlines flight from Calcutta was hit by a bird while speeding down the taxiway for take-off. 'Luckily, a major disaster was averted. But we found that the air traffic control personnel could not comprehend the damage sustained. What we are trying to achieve now is improving coordination between the pilot and air traffic control,' said Lahauria.

oA revolver tucked inside a suitcase escaped the X-ray scan and was finally detected at the final security check. The metal revolver, according to aviation safety officials, should not have got past the first entry barrier.

oAn aircraft pilot's message on the extent of fault on the aircraft was wrongly interpreted or misunderstood by the ground staff, causing chaos.

oThe automatic dependence surveillance machine is a hi-tech gadget used to transmit vital signals. 'The machine needs immediate spares, which, if not supplied to us, will result in serious confusion. We have written to the authorities about this and, hopefully, Tuesday's meeting will break the deadlock,' said a senior AAI official.

oTwo intruders sneaked past the CISF security ring a few days ago, only to be caught in a high-risk zone. This has raised serious security questions.

The spotlight will also be turned on a recent case at Bhubaneswar airport, where an aeroplane 'was forced to hover over the airport after the auto start electric switch failed to function' during a power failure.

'We, too, suffer power cuts and on Tuesday, we will discuss how such a situation can be averted here,' said a senior air safety officer.

On the eve of the crucial meeting, Shekhar Ghose, regional director (east), Indian Airlines, stressed how passenger safety was of 'paramount importance' and complete coordination between all the forces at work in the airport would ensure safe passage for travel.

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