Take-off and touchdown at Calcutta airport will soon become swifter and smoother, thanks to a fifth taxiway link between the two runways.
A Rs 10-crore project to extend the secondary runway and construct a 230-m link with the primary runway is set to ease congestion and speed up traffic at the airport.
“The extended part of the secondary runway and the new link will be operational by the middle of this year. Our target is to complete work before the rains,” airport director V.K. Monga told Metro on Tuesday.
Now, an aircraft takes 15 minutes to take-off in “no-traffic” condition. This will come down to “around eight minutes” once the new link is operational.
An aircraft, after it starts rolling from the parking bay, is pushed on to a taxiway by a tow bar. It then crosses the secondary runway and enters the main runway through one of the existing four links.
“Since the secondary runway is much shorter, all the four links are quite far from the point on the main runway where an aircraft starts its run for take-off,” explained an official. Of the four taxiways — A, B, C and D — the one closest to the point is A.
An aircraft, after entering the main runway through one of the existing links, has to “backtrack” around 1,600 m to reach the starting point.
“The backtracking is a major problem, as it takes up a lot of time and fuel,” said S.P.S. Bakshi, regional executive director, (east), Airports Authority of India.
The primary runway is 3,627 m long and the secondary runway 2,399 m. The length of the secondary runway is being increased by 440 m on the northern side.
“The new taxiway will link the main runway with the extended portion of the secondary runway, which will be close to the starting point. The aircraft then will not have to make a detour on the main runway for take-off,” the official added.
As the runway load will come down significantly, the landing time, too, would decrease correspondingly. “The new link will reduce the runway occupancy and increase its capacity, thereby enhancing the overall handling capacity of the airport,” Monga said.
According to officials, aircraft and passenger movement at Calcutta airport has increased significantly over the past two years. In 2004-2005, 7,568 international and 34,806 domestic aircraft operated at the airport. The figures between April and December 2006 are 6,885 (international) and 41,477 (domestic).
International passenger movement in this period has risen by seven per cent and domestic passenger movement by 46 per cent. “With such a steep rise, we must increase the runway handling capacity,” Monga pointed out.