Mangalore, November 22: The Mangalore International Airport in Bajpe, which had been subjected to a lot of flak following the tragic air crash of May 22, 2010 when an Air India Express Boeing bound from Dubai to Mangalore had crashed into the Kenjar valley killing 158 of its crew and passengers, is relieved that the Court of Inquiry (CoI) report pins the blame on the sleepy chief pilot of the ill-fated aircraft.
Aviation experts had fiercely criticized the table-top nature of the airport, pointing out that it left no room for pilot error. The recent CoI report has indicted the pilot and made it clear that the nature of the airport had nothing to do with the mishap.
Officials of the Airports Authority of India (AA) in Mumbai said that the AAI had been protesting all along that the table top airport in Bajpe is safe in all conditions, has the required length of runway, and that any limitations posed by its table top nature were addressed by extending the runway in 2006 and by constructing the new integrated terminal building at an estimated cost of Rs. 150 crore.
The civil aviation ministry has also directed the AAI to extend the runway by 1000ft, increasing the current 8000ft to 9000ft, a project with an estimated cost of Rs. 50 crore. The area in the periphery will also be developed at an added cost of Rs. 50 crore. The 3rd phase of the runway development project will include the installation of an arrester system and the creation of a 90mt buffer zone at the end of the runway.
Civil aviation ministry sources have revealed that the work will commence soon and the AAI has already been directed to speed up the paper work required for the project. Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel has asked the AAI to make a study on the proposed extension of the existing runway.
The AAI is making preparations to get details of available land, required land, and other required details. AAI officials say that the airport has a 350mt stretch of land, which can be easily aligned with the existing runway toward the north. The proposed 1000ft addition to the existing runway will require 50 acres of land.