Somewhere in Mumbai....

In a first, Mumbai air traffic controllers (ATC) achieved the Herculean task of handling 51 aircraft in an hour at the congested city international airport earlier this week. This is the highest record ever for the airport which has two cross runways, as a result of which, only one runway can be used at a time.
The declared capacity of the main runway (27) is 38, while the average number of aircraft handled is 40-42, which happens only when all taxiways are available and the weather and visibility are good.
“About three days ago, we were amazed that we handled 51 aircraft an hour. The busiest single runway airport is London Gatwick that handles 100 planes an hour,“ said a source. While a new record may have been created, Mumbai ATC is working in a “pressure cooker“ situation.“Mumbai has 250 air traffic controllers while the city needs at least 200 more. In the last three years the number of ATCs has dropped from 275 to 250 as no one wants to come here,“ said a source.
The reason for Mumbai being the least wanted by ATCs is simple. The official accommodation becomes available only after a wait of three to five years and renting a private house means blowing a big hole in the pocket. “No one wants a posting in Mumbai.People use whatever connection they have to avoid coming here even after getting a transfer order,“ admitted an official.
“Each controller is handling about 35 planes at a given time, especially in peak hours,“ said the official.
This situation also raises questions on the safety of aircraft movement in Mumbai which handles more than the declared capacity of the main runway and where controllers are under severe stress. An IIT study had found that the controllers here are severely strained-something which has worsened over time.
Mumbai currently handles about 780 aircraft in a day .Delhi, with its three-runway IGI Airport, handles over 900 planes a day while the capacity is close to 1,200 as two of the airstrips are parallel to each other and capable of independent movements.
Mumbai has two runways but the secondary one (14) is used only when the main runway is under maintenance or wind direction changes making aircraft operation on the latter tough. “We are trying to handle as many planes as possible given the infrastructure constraints and without compromising on safety . But the city needs more ATCs at the earliest. But the time has come for Mumbai to get a second airport,“ said an official. Thanks to these constraints, Mumbai has ceded the busiest airport tag in India to Delhi.

No comments: