Hopes brighten for big aircraft operations

The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation is said to be tilting towards approving the proposal of the Calicut International Airport authorities to resume the operation of wide-bodied aircraft at the airport.

Indicating such a possibility, official sources said that only airline companies that had submitted a detailed report on the compatibility of operating and safety assessment of wide-bodied aircraft under Code E were likely to be allowed to operate the flights.

As of now, only Saudia (Saudi Arabian airlines), one of the Haj flight operators from India, had submitted a report after the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had asked the companies to do so.

Earlier, Dubai-based carrier Emirates and Air India had conducted services using wide-bodied aircraft to West Asian destinations but these companies were yet to submit their safety assessment reports and proposed risk mitigation plan for identified hazards in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization requirements.

Banned from May 2015

The operation of wide-bodied aircraft was banned at the Calicut airport from May 2015 in the wake of the Court of Inquiry report on the Air India Express Boeing 737 crash in Mangaluru in May 2010.

Sources said that the proposal to recommence the operation of wide-bodied aircraft gained traction recently after political parties including the Indian Union Muslim League, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party took up the issue with the Centre following the completion of Runway End Safety Area (RESA) expansion work.

Besides, M.K. Raghavan, MP, who spearheaded a campaign for the purpose, had even staged a 24-hour hunger strike seeking the intervention of the Prime Minister to restore the services including the Haj embarkation point at the Calicut airport.

Issue in Parliament

He also raised the issue during zero hour in Parliament and had also met Aviation Secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey on Wednesday.

Limited approval

However, it is uncertain whether the Ministry would give approval for the operation of all aircraft under Code E such as Boeing 777-200 Extended Range, Boeing 777-200 Longer Range, Airbus 330-300, Airbus 330-300R, Boeing 777-300 Extended Range and Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner.

Perhaps, the approval would be confined to the operation of the Boeing 777-200, an aircraft which the DGCA

and the AAI said was compatible for the airport, the sources said.

After the expansion of RESA, the length of the table-top runway has been reduced to 2,700 m from 2,850 m.

Airlines companies are permitted to operate specific type of an aircraft based on Aerodrome Reference Field Length (ARFL) that refers to the minimum field length required for an aircraft to take off at sea level in still air and runway slope.

For Boeing 777-200, the ARFL is 2,390 m while for Airbus 330-300, it is 2,770, the sources said.

DGCA and AAI had asked airlines to submit safety assessment report

Only Saudi airlines has submitted report

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