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Airport set to get fresh licence to fly

Calcutta, Sept. 12: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is considering rescinding the order re-notifying the runway length at the Patna airport.

Sources at AAI, Calcutta, said the agency is likely to apply afresh to the directorate-general of civil aviation (DGCA) for renewal of the airport’s operating licence, which had expired on June 30.

DGCA, the civil aviation regulator, had held back renewal of the licence because of 101 obstacles along the airport’s landing approach funnel, which could be hazardous for flying. The AAI had issued a notice on August 3 shortening the length of the runway, which would have made the airport unfit for operating big aircraft such as Airbus A-320s and Boeing 737s.

The government, which had been tardy on the issue, was forced to act and remove obstacles like trees around the airport. The AAI, which had twice extended the deadline for removal of the obstacles, now says it is “satisfied” with the work done.

“The DGCA had observed broadly four types of obstacles along the aircraft approach funnel at Patna airport — trees, mobile towers, structures (buildings) and the Delhi-Howrah railway line at Phulwarisharif. Later, the state government took requisite steps to clear the obstacles. Now, the AAI is satisfied with most of the work carried out and it is likely to withdraw the Notam (Notice to Airmen) issued on August 3. A Notam in this regard is likely to be issued in two or three days,” a senior official at AAI, Calcutta, told The Telegraph on condition of anonymity.

The AAI’s latest deadline for the removal of obstacles expires on September 19.

“The AAI is also likely to submit a fresh application to the DGCA for renewal of operating licence of the Patna airport, which would include exceptions for the railway line and watch-tower at the secretariat,” the official added.

Aviation experts, however, said the AAI decision did not solve the problem at Patna airport, which remains among the most hazardous in the country owing to its short runway.

“Short runways would continue to remain a major hurdle in safe operations of aircraft from Patna airport. It would continue to remain in the category of most critical airports across the country,” said Mirza Faizan, aviation scientist and chief executive officer of the Bangalore-based Avembsys Technologies.


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