Issued in Public Interest, Fly to Patna at Your Own Risk!
Passengers risk their lives every day while boarding a flight at the Patna airport, writes Neena Choudhary.
All those who frequently fly to Patna may not be aware that the airport, declared as one of the 11 most dangerous airports in the country, is operating without a valid licence for the last couple of years.
The shocking disclosure came to the fore when Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Mahesh Sharma, chided the Bihar government for not making land available for the expansion of the runway, which is so short that wide-bodied aircraft like Airbus 300 and Airbus 321, which require a 9,000-feet long runway, can’t land there.
It was in this context that the minister conceded that the airport, known as the Jayaprakash Narayan International Airport, was not a licenced one.
Aviation sources say that way back in 2012, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), had held back the operating licence of Patna airport because of obstructions on aircraft approach funnel.
Patna Airport Faces Risk of Shutdown
- Wide-bodied aircraft like the Airbus 300 and Airbus
321, which require a 9,000-feet long runway, can’t land at the Patna airport.
- Patna International Airport does not comply
with minimum runway length requirements for planes.
- Airport Authority of India found that the Patna
airport had 101 obstructions on either side of the tarmac.
- DGCA held back the decision to issue a licence to
Patna airport as it does not fulfil the requisite safety parameters.
Patna Airport Declared Unfit for Operation
The Airport Authority of India (AAI) found that Patna airport had 101 obstructions on either side of the tarmac.The obstructions included 3,700 trees around the Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, high-rise residential buildings and mobile towers among many.
The AAI has declared the airport unfit for operation and has given a deadline to the Bihar Government to remove the obstacles around the tarmac or face closure.
The DGCA has held back
the decision to issue a licence to Patna airport as it does not fulfil the
requisite safety parameters.
Risk to the Lives of Passengers
After pilots complained
to the Airport Authority of India (AAI) about the short runway length, a proposal
was given to the Bihar Government either to allot land to develop a new airport
or shift the existing one to Bihta, around 30 km from Patna.
The Patna district administration is apparently averse to the idea of shifting the base to Bihta as it is a defence site and IAF aircraft take off from there frequently. It instead proposed that the airport be shifted to Nalanda. However, the Civil Aviation Ministry was against this idea as the journey time from Patna to Nalanda would be more than the travel time between Patna to Delhi (1.40 hours).
As the impasse continues, all those travelling to Patna (nearly 2800 passengers per day) face great risk to their lives as most of the aircraft land here using emergency brakes due to the short runway.
(The writer is a Bihar-based journalist)
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