In a reply given in Lok Sabha, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia assured that there is no plan to shorten the length of the tabletop runway of Calicut International Airport to expand the Runway End Safety Area (RESA), to resume the operations of wide-bodied aircraft at the airport. Minister was answering the queries raised by M. K. Raghavan, an MP from Calicut, who is also the co-Chairman of the Calicut Airport Advisory Committee.
Against the response, MP M.K. Raghavan blamed the Minister for giving an incorrect answer and misleading the House, on the grounds that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had previously chalked out a plan to reduce the length of the runway in this regard. He also brought the AAI directive as evidence to support his claim. Following an intervention by the Lok Sabha Speaker, Minister and MP withdrew their talks and later met again in the presence of V. Muraleedharan, the Union Minister of State for External Affairs, to clarify the issue. Scindia assured the MP and Muraleedharan that no steps would be taken to reduce the runway length.
DGCA’s Recommendation to Shorten Runway Length at Calicut Airport
Currently, the operations of wide-bodied aircraft at Calicut airport stands suspended, following a fatal crash in August 2020 that claimed the lives of 21 people, including the pilot and co-pilot. A Boeing 737-800 Air India Express flight overshot the runway and plunged into a 35-metre valley.
The recommendation to reduce the runway length came from a report by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), which conducted the assessment at Kozhikode airport to see the possibilities of resuming the operations of wide-bodied aircraft at the airport. The report suggested reconstructing the Runway End Safety Area (RESA) after reducing the length of the tabletop runway. However, if RESA were increased by 240 metres on both sides, the runway length would be reduced to 2,540m. The existing runway length of Calicut airport is 2,700 meters. The original length was 2,850m four years ago, which was shortened to increase the RESA on one side.
Another recommendation in the report was to install a transmissometer for Runway Visual Range (RVR) system. RVR system can significantly enhance the visibility reporting, leading to better awareness for the pilots.