4 new taxiways to push up airport's aircraft handling capacity by 30%
Times of India | 19 November 2023
KOLKATA: Kolkata airport's flight handling capacity is set to jump by nearly 30% from December 28 when four new taxiways will become operational. While the airport can now handle a maximum 35 flights an hour, once the new taxiways are operational, it will be possible to have up to 45 flight movements an hour.
"Taxiway F that connects the northern end of the primary runway used for flight operations throughout the year will become operational on December 28 along with the three new rapid exit taxiways that have been constructed," said airport director C Pattabhi.
While the new taxiways have been inspected and approved by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), they need to be uploaded on the Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP), a global aviation manual, to inform airlines and pilots worldwide about the changes at Kolkata airport.
Taxiway F will enable departing flights to start the take-off run immediately after entering the runway instead of entering the runway in the middle and then taxiing to the end before making a U-turn to start the take-off run. The rapid exit taxiways (RETs), an air traffic controller said, would help shave off nearly 15 seconds from each landing, thereby allowing 7 to 10 more flights to land or take-off every hour.
The RETs have been constructed at an angle of 30° to 35° to the runway to allow planes to exit at high speed without keeling over. While smaller aircraft like ATR and CRJ can exit at 65kmph using the RET, narrow and wide-body Boeing or Airbus planes can do so at 93kmph.
Prior to the addition of three new RETs, the airport had only one RET that could be used by aircraft landing from the north or Madhyamgram side. Now, two RETs are available for aircraft landing at either end of the runway. "At present, a plane takes 45-50 seconds to vacate the runway after touchdown. That will reduce to 30 seconds when the RETs are in place," the official said.
The capacity enhancement will allow Kolkata airport authorities to release more slots to airlines for flight operations during the high-demand hours. "There is a huge demand for slots in the morning and evening when most operators wish to schedule their flights. With this capacity expansion, we will be able to offer more slots and expect them to be grabbed by airlines," said an airport official.
In April this year, the airport's air traffic navigation (ATN) unit had reduced the separation or distance between two approaching planes to ensure that arriving flights get to land in quick succession. While planes had to maintain a minimum separation of 5 nautical miles (9.5 km) within 30 NM (56 km) of the airport, the distance has been revised to 3 NM (5.6 km) to allow more flights to be packed into the airspace.
Closer to the runway when the aircraft speed reduces, planes approaching the landing strip for consecutive touchdowns that had to maintain a separation of 7 NM (13 km) will now require a separation of 4 NM (7.4 km). When there is a departure scheduled between two consecutive arrivals, the separation will be 6 NM (11 km) instead of the earlier 8 NM (14.8 km).