The runways at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) airport in Kolkata have passed all safety checks that were recently conducted by a committee which included airport officials and commercial airline pilots. The airport authorities are waiting for state government’s nod for expansion of the secondary runway.

The Kolkata airport authorities held a runway safety meeting last Friday after six months.

“We conducted a meeting on Friday. Runway safety meetings are held fortnightly but due to the Covid situation, it got delayed. The last meeting took place in February but our expert teams do regular monitoring of runways in the airport” said the airport director Mr Kaushik Bhattacharya.

Commenting on the observations made and discussed in the meeting, the director confirmed that all aspects of runway safety were considered during the checks.

Both the primary and secondary runways were carefully examined for any safety lapses.

It may be noted that the Kolkata airport has two parallel runways with the primary and longer one- 01R/19L measuring 11,900 ft and secondary runway , 01L/19R measuring 9240 feet.

This was also the first runway safety meeting conducted after Cyclone Amphan during which the airport premises and its runway went underwater due to the torrential rainfall but water was efficiently drained out to resume flight operations.

The crash at the Kozhikode airport recently had brought to attention and highlighted on the importance of runway safety which can be jeopardised with cracks or rubber deposits leading an aircraft to skid off the runway.

Mr Bhattacharya explained, “To ensure that there are no safety lapses, the runway safety team comprises airline pilots during the inspection. Pilots from airlines Air India, Indigo and Air Asia were present in the expert team which also went on an inspection walk on the main runway.”

Meanwhile commenting on the expansion of the secondary runway, the director said that the airport authorities have already earmarked land for the project and is now waiting for the state government’s approval. “The secondary runway though has a Runway End Safety Area (RESA) of more than 160 metres, the requirement is 240m” said an airport official. The RESA, an extension towards the end of runway ensures that an aircraft does not overshoot runways after landing.

The Kolkata airport yesterday recorded a footfall of 28000 passengers and 200 flight movements, making it one of the busiest day of operations after resumption of flight services. Commenting on whether any other airlines other than Air India have expressed interest in operating direct flights from Kolkata to Europe, the official said, “Despite Kolkata airport runways equipped to handle wide body aircraft, not many Indian airlines have these types of aircraft needed for such longhaul flights.”