Soon, kits to get stuck planes off runway at six airports

NEW DELHI: Aircraft stuck on runways will not be able to hold up and delay traffic by September, with major airports set to install six Disabled Aircraft Recovery Kit (DARK) systems.

In July last year that the aviation regulator had asked operators of Bengaluru, New Delhi and Mumbai, along with the Airports Authority of India (AAI), to buy six such systems.

“Bengaluru airport will be the first to install DARK in June. Airports in Delhi, Mumbai and three AAI airports will install the equipment by September,” said a senior Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) official who did not want to be identified. The official said operators have updated DGCA on status of the acquisitions.

DARK is used to clear aircraft that veer off the runway, blocking it. There is only one kit in India at present, owned by national carrier Air India.

The need for more was felt after a SpiceJet aircraft overshot the runway in Mumbai during bad weather and got stuck, leading to closure of the main runway, last year. Hundreds of flights were cancelled and delayed, leading to a spike in fares too. The SpiceJet plane could only be removed after 90 hours as the kit was in Mangalore for retrieving an Air India Express aircraft.

DGCA chief Arun Kumar took serious note and asked airport operators to have DARK to ensure immediate aircraft retrieval — especially during bad weather — and resume normal operations.

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